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Apple Watch Radiation: An-In-Depth Look

Apple Watch Radiation: An-In-Depth Look

Apple Watches have been around for a while, and they are not likely going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, according to a study done by the Pew Research Group in 2019, one-in-five American adults currently wear a fitness tracker, and that number is projected to grow.

With the popularity of the Apple Watch comes some concerns over its safety. Whether you’re an Apple Watch owner or you’re just considering purchasing one, let’s take a look at the reason behind these safety concerns — and what you can do to protect yourself.

Apple watches and EMF radiation

Older models of the Apple Watch utilized Bluetooth to maintain a connection with the user’s iPhone. Newer models offer the option to connect to a cellular network, in addition to Bluetooth. Either way, the watch maintains a constant connection with a phone or cellular network, sending and receiving data.

This constant connection is required for some of the Apple Watch’s more popular functions, including the ability to make or receive calls and texts or connect to certain apps. For those who use their watch to listen to music, Bluetooth headphones are needed, as well.

Indeed, many of the features that draw users to the Apple Watch rely on a Bluetooth or cellular connection. This can be problematic, however, because these are forms of EMF radiation. And if you’re familiar with EMF radiation, you know that the closer in proximity you are to a device, the higher your rate of exposure.

The Apple Watch is typically strapped to your wrist 24 hours a day, monitoring activity while you’re awake and the quality of your sleep when you’re not. Even if the Apple Watch produces a relatively small amount of EMF radiation, the length and proximity of exposure could still lead to negative health effects. The reality is no studies have been done regarding the long-term safety of the Apple Watch or other similar fitness trackers and smartwatches.

Types of radiation produced

  • ELF-EMF. Whenever an electronic device is powered on, it generates what is called Extremely-Low Frequency (ELF) EMF radiation. ELF falls on the very far non-ionizing end of the electromagnetic spectrum, and it’s pretty common in our homes due to power lines and energy-efficient appliances. Apple Watches produce ELF-EMF radiation when they are charging or powered on.

    Studies on ELF-EMF radiation point to a connection to childhood leukemia. Furthermore, exposure has been linked to a 2.72% increase in the risk of a miscarriage for pregnant women. And these types of electromagnetic fields have even been tied to cognitive and motor dysfunction in honey bees.
  • RF-EMF. Radiofrequency (RF) EMF radiation is produced by devices that transmit radio signals, such as cell phones, tablets, and connected smartwatches– including the Apple Watch. The Bluetooth and cellular connections used by the Apple Watch are forms of RF-EMF radiation.

    While the RF-EMF radiation produced by Apple Watches specifically has not been studied, RF-EMF itself has. The studies on cell phones, in particular, are relevant here, as they also deal with cellular networks and devices that are kept in close proximity to the user. Long-term usage has been tied to the development of Glioma, a rare and deadly form of brain cancer, both in rats and in humans. Occupational exposure to RF-EMF radiation was even shown to cause cancer in Italian plasticware workers. Migratory birds and insects have also been shown to have been impacted by RF-EMF radiation.

How radioactive is the Apple Watch?

The amount of radiation you’re exposed to when wearing the Apple Watch depends a lot on how you use it. If you keep your Bluetooth and cellular connection on, you’re going to be exposed to a lot more than if you keep your watch in airplane mode. Likewise, if you wear your watch 24/7, you’re going to be exposed to more cumulatively than if you took the watch off at night.

To see firsthand just how much EMF radiation a fully-functioning Apple Watch can produce, check out the video below.

Apple does provide some information on their website regarding the radioactivity of the Apple Watch. It does this using SAR values. SAR stands for Specific Absorption Rate, and a SAR level is the maximum amount of energy absorbed per unit of mass. To put it more simply, the SAR value indicates how much radiation the tissue in your body will absorb when positioned a certain distance away from the source.

For the Apple Watch, the SAR values assume no separation between the watch and the user’s wrist and a 10mm separation between the watch and the user’s head. That means in order to stay within these SAR levels, you must keep your watch at least 10mm from your face.

For the newest generation of Apple Watches (fifth generation,) the SAR ratings are as follows:

Model A2095
1.6 W/kg (over 1 g) SAR Limit
Head: 0.59

2.0 W/kg (over 10 g) SAR Limit
Head: 0.36

4.0 W/kg (over 10 g) SAR Limit
Wrist: 0.34

Model A2157
1.6 W/kg (over 1 g) SAR Limit
Head: 0.52

2.0 W/kg (over 10 g) SAR Limit
Head: 0.36

4.0 W/kg (over 10 g) SAR Limit
Wrist: 0.34

Model A2094
1.6 W/kg (over 1 g) SAR Limit
Head: 0.38

2.0 W/kg (over 10 g) SAR Limit
Head: 0.34

4.0 W/kg (over 10 g) SAR Limit
Wrist: 0.39

Model A2156
1.6 W/kg (over 1 g) SAR Limit
Head: 0.33

2.0 W/kg (over 10 g) SAR Limit
Head: 0.34

4.0 W/kg (over 10 g) SAR Limit
Wrist: 0.39

Model A2093
1.6 W/kg (over 1 g) SAR Limit
Head: 0.16

2.0 W/kg (over 10 g) SAR Limit
Head: 0.06

4.0 W/kg (over 10 g) SAR Limit
Wrist: 0.08

Model A2092
1.6 W/kg (over 1 g) SAR Limit
Head: 0.31

2.0 W/kg (over 10 g) SAR Limit
Head: 0.09

4.0 W/kg (over 10 g) SAR Limit
Wrist: 0.07

Protecting yourself from Apple Watch radiation

If you decide that the benefits of wearing an Apple Watch outweigh the risks, there are still a few things you can do to make your experience safer.

1. Go into airplane mode

The best thing you can do to protect yourself from Apple Watch radiation is to turn your watch on Airplane mode. Or, if you have an older model, simply switch the Bluetooth off. Decide how often you want to sync the watch with your phone or computer, and connect the device only during designated sync times. This will take away a significant chunk of the watch’s functionality, but it will also drastically reduce the RF-EMF radiation produced.

2. Sync less

Consider syncing as infrequently as possible. Unless you religiously track your workouts or other data, there’s not much reason to sync your watch every day. Some people find that one a week is plenty often enough. The less you connect your watch to Bluetooth or the cellular network, the less radiation it will produce.

3. Take a break

If possible, take occasional breaks from wearing your watch. This not only allows you to keep the watch charged, but also to give your body a chance to recover from any EMF-related damage done. Just be sure to store the watch at least a few feet away from you while it’s not in use.

4. Try an Apple watch EMF blocker

These are products designed to keep you safer from Apple Watch radiation. One such product is made by EMF Harmony– the EMF Harmonizer Apple Watch Band. It’s available in black or white, and in a variety of sizes. The only problem is that it’s very difficult to independently verify or test this device. It claims to neutralize EMF radiation while supporting your body against its harmful effects. That’s not something we can test with an EMF meter, so if you do use one of these products, proceed at your own risk.

5. Consider a lower-EMF device

If you don’t already have an Apple Watch, consider opting for a lower-EMF smartwatch or fitness tracker instead. With an Apple Watch, you’re paying a high price for an abundance of features. If you keep the phone in Airplane mode, you aren’t going to have access to those features most of that time. For that reason, it may make more sense to find a more stripped-down watch that is worth a little less. A basic pedometer is far less expensive and produces significantly less EMF radiation because it doesn’t require a connection. To see what lower-EMF fitness tracker and pedometer options are out there, check out our guide to lower-EMF fitness trackers.

Parting thoughts

If you already have an Apple Watch, keeping it in airplane mode is your best bet for keeping yourself safe. And if you don’t have one yet, consider opting for a lower-EMF alternative, instead.

Apple Watch Radiation: An-In-Depth Look
Adam Short

Adam Short

What started out as an intention to protect my family from the dangers of EMF radiation has turned into a mission to share my research with as many people as possible. Despite the ever-increasing threat of EMF, there are many ways to keep ourselves protected. Knowledge is power!

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