Does a video on social media accurately show a charging remote emitting dangerous levels of electromagnetic frequencies? No, that's not true: An expert told Lead Stories that the "video does not accurately depict exposure from electronic devices and employs pseudoscience to create unwarranted concern." They added that there are no known health effects from exposure to wireless devices like video game controllers, nor is there established evidence that exposure to low-level electromagnetic frequencies from household sources like a video game controller and charger, when used properly, causes any health effects.
The claim originated in a video initially shared to TikTok (archive) on November 4, 2023, and later to Facebook (archive) on November 26, 2023. Both clips appeared to show readings from an electromagnetic frequency meter change as it was placed in front of a person, both as they were holding a game controller and when they weren't. A text overlay on the video posted to Facebook read:
This REALLY IS Something..
EMF RADIATES THROUGH YOUR KIDS
This is only a remote.. Imagine a phone or computer..
A caption that accompanied the post on Facebook read:
So crazy how just a charging remote can emit such levels.. Link in my bio to learn more on how YOU can PROTECT yourself, and others.. #health #wellness #fyp
This is how the post looked on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Dec 13 23:11:05 2023 UTC)
"This video does not accurately depict exposure from electronic devices and employs pseudoscience to create unwarranted concern. The content maker is using legitimate terms like voltage, and what appears to be scientific equipment, to convince viewers that the information they are sharing is factual," wrote Ken Karipidis, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency's (ARPANSA) Health Impact Assessment Assistant Director, in an email to Lead Stories received on December 13, 2023.
"It is difficult to confirm from the video the exact type of measurement device being used. Despite claims in the video, it is extremely unlikely that any of the signals detected represent a risk to humans or animals."
According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) are "invisible areas of energy, often referred to as Radiation, that are associated with the use of electrical power and various forms of natural and man-made lighting. EMFs are typically grouped into one of two categories by their frequency."
But there is no evidence that EMFs in household devices emit enough radiation to be harmful to human health.
Karipidis, who is also the vice-chair-elect of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, a health authority regarded as the pre-eminent authority in non-ionizing radiation protection, added:
There are no known health effects from exposure to wireless devices like video game controllers. There is no established evidence that exposure to low level electromagnetic fields from household sources like a videogame controller and charger, when used properly, cause any health effects. Exposure to electromagnetic fields from common household sources and devices is low and well below internationally recognised safety limits like the ones developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
It is also worth noting that the EMF meter showed a higher level when the remote was moved closer to it, likely picking up the signals emitted by the remote itself and not by way of the person holding it.
Lead Stories has debunked other stories related to radiation, including that household microwave ovens emit levels of radiation high enough to harm human health, that infrared thermometers emit radiation and damage the pineal gland, and that Apple AirPods headphones are dangerous and emit more radiation than a microwave oven.