Is Bluetooth a danger for our hearing health?

Effects on health, brain & hearing
Last update on Jan, 23, 2023

About the functioning, measurement and risks of Bluetooth radiation

In this article, learn everything there is to know about Bluetooth® wireless radiation, from smartphones, headsets, and similar devices and whether this can have a detrimental effect on your hearing. If you think you are suffering from a hearing condition, you can take Amplifon's free online hearing test or get your hearing checked at the Amplifon centre nearest to you.

Things to know about Bluetooth

Bluetooth (often abbreviated to BT) is a technical-industrial data transmission standard for wireless personal area networks (WPAN).

How does Bluetooth work?

The connection system, which serves to connect two devices, uses short-range radio waves that consume very little energy. Bluetooth technology uses the 2.45 gigahertz (Ghz) frequency range. It is via this frequency that two connected devices can exchange data packets, i.e. transmit information.

In other words, thanks to Bluetooth, it is possible to send and receive numerous files, such as images, videos, documents, and more. Even though the latest devices can provide coverage of up to 50 metres, the radiated Bluetooth signal usually does not exceed a distance of 10 metres. The Bluetooth network is not subject to frequency interference.

Which devices use Bluetooth?

Bluetooth can be used to connect two different devices e.g., PDAs, mobile phones, personal computers, laptops, printers, digital cameras, smartwatches, game consoles, headsets, or any devices that have the hardware and software specifications required by the standard itself. BT has also been used in the industrial sector as a communication tool with related data loggers, such as a measuring instrument, optical reader, etc.

How Bluetooth radiation is measured

Bluetooth is a technology based on UHF (Ultra High Frequency) radio waves. To measure the intensity of electromagnetic radiation in a domestic environment, an electromagnetic field detector must be used.

Why choose Amplifon?

By choosing Amplifon as your hearing care provider, you’re choosing to be cared and looked after by qualified and experienced Audiologists who can help change the way you listen to the world around you.

How Bluetooth radiation affects the body

Currently, scientists claim that the power used by Bluetooth technology is too low to harm human biological tissue. In fact, the radiation is non-ionising, which means it is incapable of changing the number of electrons in an atom and potentially damaging the exposed organism. Thermal effects are the only established consequences of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. The human body absorbs the energy emitted by the devices and converts it into heat. The heat, in turn, causes tissue heating, and when excessive, it can generate thermal damage. However, we dissipate heat in many ways, thanks to our thermoregulatory system. Therefore, damage can only occur with a very high electromagnetic field, which we can be easily exposed to in everyday life but not through a mobile phone or Bluetooth device. 

Effect on the brain

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has declared EMF (the electromagnetic frequency radio waves on which Bluetooth is based) as potentially carcinogenic to humans. However, the link between radiation, glioma and neurinoma was reported only in 10% of the people who claimed to use their phones frequently.

In some cases, these users spoke on their phone as much as 4 and 5 hours per day. Prospective research, which included the Million Women Study and involved 800,000 British women, examined the risk of developing a brain tumour over seven years of telephone use. The conclusion drawn was that there is no cause-and-effect relationship, except for a possible link with neurinoma of the acoustic nerve, which had already been highlighted in Interphone. In addition to this, there is also the prospective Cosmos study, which started in 2010 and will run for 20-30 years.

Effect on the hearing

According to research conducted by Bond University in Australia, the non-excessive use of Bluetooth headsets does not generally cause any problems, but if used for prolonged periods of time, it can lead to several disorders mostly related to noise damage. The effects of prolonged exposure to loud noise on our auditory system is increasingly leading to almost both acute and chronic acoustic trauma caused by oxidative stress on nerve cells. Therefore, it is a good idea to be mindful and avoid the continuous use of headphones whenever possible.

Can Bluetooth cause cancer?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has placed mobile phone radiation in category 2B, among the agents ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’. This group includes agents for which there is limited evidence of causing cancer in humans and less than sufficient evidence in animal experiments.

Can Bluetooth headphones be harmful?

According to Humanitas, Bluetooth headsets are not harmful to your health. In fact, recent studies have shown that the radiation emitted by wireless headsets is lower than that of the smartphones we use every day. On a more technical level, studies have established that Bluetooth is a safe technology based on an analysis of the signal strength. The figure in question would be lower than that recorded by home Wi-Fi networks, which are already free of health risks.

Effect on babies & children

It is safe to say that Bluetooth is not harmful to children. The reason is the same as above: the power expressed in mW and dBm does not reach levels that could pose a danger. However, the rules of common sense prevail even and especially in these cases. That being said, generally speaking, avoiding prolonged use can only be beneficial.
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How to reduce Bluetooth radiation

To reduce exposure to Bluetooth radiation, we recommend devices of power classes 2 and 3. 

Summary: Is Bluetooth harmful?

At the moment, Bluetooth seems to be a relatively safe technology, both for adults and children, thanks to its low signal strength, that is even lower than that of a normal home Wi Fi network.

Other questions? Come and visit us in an Amplifon clinic

Book an appointment and come and visit us at one of our Amplifon clinics, our hearing care professionals will be ready to answer any of your curiosities about the world of hearing and to show you our range of Amplifon hearing aids.

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