ALERT Learn More | NASP Certification Program: The Path to Success Has Many Routes. Choose Yours

Portable Radiation: Cell Phone and Bluetooth Headset Safety Tips

By Rob Chernish
Published: June 12, 2014 | Last updated: August 8, 2022 10:12:51
Key Takeaways

If you make extensive use of a cellphone as part of your work, you should know the risks associated with microwave radiation and how to protect yourself from it.

Source: Syda Productions/

Wireless communication is an integral part of both our personal and professional lives. Widespread work-related use has spread even further since the COVID-19 pandemic moved many workers out of the workplace and into remote work arrangements.

This raises some important questions about the safety of these devices. Questions that can, unfortunately, be difficult to answer. Look up the health effects of cellphones and Bluetooth devices online and you'll come across various sources that contradict each other.

This article's goal is to help you take a balanced look at the possible side effects of prolonged cellphone and Bluetooth usage, as well as provide you with some safety tips.


Are Mobile Devices Dangerous?

Mobile devices transmit and receive radio frequency microwave radiation. This is the primary health concern, as this type of radiation is a known carcinogen. Since widespread cellphone use is still relatively recent, the effects of extended exposure to the radiation they transmit remains largely untested.

Many safety advocates and lobbyists hold that microwave radiation from cellphones is a serious concern due to the following reasons:

  • While cellphone technology is not new, they are now used at unprecedented rates. Because of this, we have not yet seen the long-term outcomes of chronic and extensive exposure to their radiation.
  • Most health effects associated with microwave radiation take years to develop. This makes it difficult to establish a clear relationship between cellphone radiation and these conditions. And if we ever do have conclusive evidence, a significant percetnage of the population will already be affected by that point.
  • The effects of microwave radiation exposure can be severe and debilitating, including:
    • Leukemia
    • Brain tumors
    • Alzheimer's disease
    • Miscarriages and birth defects

Is Bluetooth Radiation Dangerous as Well?

Bluetooth headsets or earpieces are common smartphone accessories, especially for people who use them extensively. While they do encourage distance between the phone and the user, these devices also expose the user to close-proximity radiation.

Like cellphone radiation, Bluetooth radiation is the subject of controversy. Some studies have posited a link between Bluetooth headset use and a number of conditions, including:

  • Blindness and deafness
  • Brain tumors
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Autoimmune illnesses

Bluetooth systems operate at 2.4 GHz ISM band and use the frequency-hopper spread spectrum (FHCC) - the same band used by Wi-Fi and microwave ovens. Radiofrequency radiation has been linked by peer-reviewed scientific studies to cancer, DNA damage in infants and fetuses, and infertility. In 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified RF radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

Are Cellphones Linked to Cancer?

Worries about the effects of cellphone radiation have been with us since the devices hit the market. With the advent of 5G technology, we have seen a revived conversation about the potential risks.

Although still a controversial position, researches have identified a connection between cellphones and cancer - at least in the case of excessive usage. People who converse on them for several hours a day have been found to be 50% more likely to develop brain cancer.

The human brain receives about 220 electromagnetic impulses every minute. Not all of them are harmful, but may cause harm with prolonged exposure. An increase in high-grade glioma and acoustic neuroma, types of brain cancers caused by excessive cellphone usage, have been reported by recent studies.

According to IEEE Fellow Rod Waterhouse, the radio frequency from cellular sites is on the non-ionizing radiation spectrum and does not damage DNA or possibly cause cancer. However, excessive exposure to radiofrequency can cause the body to overheat to dangerous levels and local exposure can cause damage to skin tissues or corneas.


Safety Tips for Minimizing Mobile Radiation

Ultimately, the jury is out on the safety of cellphone and Bluetooth radiation. Until more conclusive evidence is available, it is prudent to err on the side of caution and reduce your exposure to radiation.

Here are some steps to achieve that.

  • Keep calls short and to the point
  • Use a wired earpiece to keep the phone away from your head without resorting to a Bluetooth device
  • Use the speakerphone
  • Consider whether some phone calls could be handled over text instead
  • Opt for locations with good reception, since this will transmit radiation at a much lower level
  • Do not keep your phone in your pocket
  • Do not sleep with your phone by your head or under your pillow - keep it on the nightstand
  • Do not talk on the phone while it is charging - your device emits ten times the radiation when it is charging


Share This Article

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

Written by Rob Chernish

A writer from Canada with firsthand experience in Oil, Gas, Mining, and environmental safety.

Related Articles

Go back to top