Are Apple AirPods headphones dangerous and do they emit more radiation than a microwave oven? No, that's not true: There is no evidence to suggest that the radiation emitted from any model of AirPods is high enough to cause concern for users' safety or that it is higher than that of a microwave oven.
The claim appeared in a Facebook post on May 1, 2022. The post includes a picture of a pair of AirPods in an unidentified person's hand and a caption that opens:
If you wanted to create the perfect device designed to destroy the health of the masses it would be hard to find a more perfect design than these innocent looking ear buds.
The caption claims that, whether on or off, AirPods emit five times the radiation of over-the-ear Bluetooth headphones and more radiation than a microwave.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue May 3 14:17:20 2022 UTC)
There is no evidence to suggest that AirPods emit such high levels of electromagnetic radiation. Like cellphones, Bluetooth headphones emit radiofrequency radiation, a type of non-ionizing radiation that is usually only considered dangerous when it is intense and direct, such as in some industrial devices used in the workplace.
Lead Stories reached out to Apple for a response to the claim, but a representative for the company declined to speak on the record regarding the company's product or the claim. Instead, they referred us to a 2021 Reuters fact check that quoted the company as saying its AirPods models "meet all applicable radio frequency exposure guidelines and limits." Based on radiofrequency exposure assessments of every earbud model of AirPods, the products do adhere to applicable radiofrequency exposure standards. On page four of each of the radiofrequency exposure assessments for AirPods (3rd generation) (here and here), AirPods Pro (here and here), AirPods (2nd generation) (here and here) and AirPods (1st generation) (here and here), UL Verification Services Inc., the organization that assessed the products' radiofrequency exposures, expressed the belief that each product "passed" the radiofrequency exposure requirement standards set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) (here and here) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
A 2019 peer-reviewed study estimated that when connected, Bluetooth headsets' exposure levels to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields were 10-400 times lower than that of cellphones. The specific levels were dependent on the type of Bluetooth headset.
Microwave ovens emit microwave radiation, a type of non-ionizing radiofrequency radiation that is higher on the electromagnetic spectrum than the radiofrequency radiation emitted from wireless, mobile devices such as cellphones.
Lead Stories reached out to the FCC about the claim and will update this fact check with any relevant response.