Apple Watch EMF Radiation Guide

It’s no secret that Apple has gone above and beyond to make health a focus of its products. The Apple Watch, for instance, has evolved to become your health coach, personal trainer, and fitness champion all rolled into one sleek and compact package.

The number of features the gadget has acquired over the years is truly impressive. From helping thousands of users lose weight to saving lives, it’s the “smart” in smart devices.

But, what many Apple lovers don’t realize is the amount of EMF radiation these small devices expose them to. While it may very well have a myriad of short term benefits, do the long term effects of Apple Watch EMF radiation, outweigh the good? This guide takes an in-depth look at everything you need to know about these devices.

You might be interested in: Fitness Tracker That Doesn’t Require a Smartphone.

EMF Radiation Emitted by Apple Watches

One of the most frequently asked questions is: Do Apple watches emit EMF radiation? The answer to this is – yes! The smarter this device has become, the higher the amount of EMF radiation it emits. Think about this for a moment. This wrist device, which most people wear round the clock, connects to other devices and the internet through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular networks.

As you know, the closer you are to an EMF-radiation source, the greater the level of exposure, which increases your risk for adverse side effects. So, having an EMF radiation source against your body isn’t such a great idea.

Sure, it might help you keep track of your menstrual cycle and help you monitor your heart rate. Heck, it might even remind you to breathe in case you forget to but, is the long-term cancer risk worth it?

Tumors aside, there are several physical symptoms you might be experiencing that could be a strong indicator that the EMF radiation being emitted by your Apple Watch is affecting you in more ways than you care to admit.

For instance, if you’ve been experiencing frequent headaches that don’t seem to go away even with over-the-counter medications, that in itself could be an indication that you are experiencing electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

What Is Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity and Are You at Risk?

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) is a condition characterized by symptoms that arise as a result of low-level exposure to EMF radiation. Some of the symptoms include (a couple sources here and here but there are many on the topic):

  • Severe headaches
  • Perpetual fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Reduced immunity levels
  • Dizziness
  • Brain fog
  • Ringing in the ears (Tinnitus)
  • Heart palpitations
  • Skin reactions like a rash, tingling sensation and/or skin redness

The majority of people who are sensitive to EMF radiation report fatigue as the most recognizable symptom of the ones listed. If you’re always feeling tired even after getting a full night’s sleep, the Apple Watch you’re wearing could be the culprit.

Apple Watch and Cancer: Is There a Link?

older woman's hand with an Apple Watch

To say that the Apple Watch causes cancer would be an inaccurate assertion. This is due to the fact the device hasn’t been around long enough for evidence from studies to draw a link between the two.

This also doesn’t mean that they are safe either. Because Apple watches emit EMF radiation, it means that they pose a cancer risk. There are lots of studies (and here) that have been done to support these claims. Therefore, you can make inferences about the danger of Apple watches based on the existing evidence of the dangers of EMF radiation.

How EMFs Causes Cancer

It’s important to understand how electromagnetic radiation causes cancer. Radiation is the blanket term used to denote the energy transmitted from any source. X-rays, sunlight, and even the heat emitted from the human body are all different forms of radiation.

However, when it comes to cancer-causing radiation, there are specific kinds that immediately come to mind, like nuclear radiation or X-rays. Radiation exists across a broad range depending on its wavelength and frequency (energy) levels. This range is called the electromagnetic spectrum.

High-energy radiation is categorized into non-ionizing and ionizing. Ionizing radiation like X-rays and gamma rays possess enough energy to dislodge an electron from an atom leaving behind a charged (ionized) particle. This alters the basic structure of the DNA inside the cells, which can lead to cancer.

Lower energy radiation like microwaves and radio waves only have sufficient energy to move the electrons around the atom, therefore, causing it to vibrate, but not enough to dislodge them (ionize). These kinds of radiation are referred to as non-ionizing.

There has been an ongoing debate as to whether non-ionizing radiation such as that emitted by cell phones and Apple watches can cause cancer. The argument so far has been that non-ionizing radiation can’t alter cellular DNA, and therefore cannot cause cancer.

That assertion is true, to some extent, when you consider only one aspect of the cancer-causing mechanism: Ionization. But there are two sides to this coin. Non-ionizing radiation also causes cancer. Here’s how:

  • It damages cellular processes
  • It damages cellular components including DNA
  • It causes oxidative stress

If any of the above scenarios play out, the repercussions are dire for human health.

Apple Watch Non-Ionizing Radiation and Oxidative Stress

top down view of a desk with a computer, wireless keyboard and mouse, cell phone, and person's arms with an Apple Watch on

Oxidative stress is a broad term that refers to a pro-oxidant-antioxidant imbalance in the body. The pro-oxidant or oxygen-carrying molecules, also called free radicals, contain an uneven number of electrons, which makes them reactive with other molecules. They cause large chain reactions through a process called oxidation, the result of which could either help or harm the body. Antioxidants exist to donate an electron to a free radical without becoming unstable themselves.

Non-ionizing radiation causes an imbalance such that there are more free radicals present in the body than there are antioxidants to stabilize them. This could have adverse effects on cellular DNA, which could ultimately cause cancer.

You can think of DNA as the basic source code for the functioning of the human body. When this structure is altered, it causes a mutation in cellular DNA, which is believed to be the first step in the formation of cancer cells in the body.

Now, if you’re wearing an EMF radiating device (read Apple Watch) that is in constant and direct contact with your body, it means that you are increasing the likelihood for these cellular mutations to take place.

Apple Watch SAR Levels

The manufacturers of devices that have cellular connection capabilities are required (by law) to indicate their respective Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) ratings. Apple watches are no different. Before delving into what the Apple Watch SAR rating is, it’s important to understand what those numbers mean in the first place. Here’s a brief background.

In 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a set of guidelines on what amount of EMF radiation exposure is considered safe and legal. According to the rules, the maximum SAR for any cellular device is capped at 1.6 w/kg of body weight. This number was based solely on the heating effects of EMF radiation.

The guidelines, however, did not consider the mounting evidence from emerging research indicating that the harmful and life-threatening effects of EMFs extend to the increased and very real risk of cancer and the effects of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity.

What’s more, the SAR levels outlined by the FCC are based on 30 minutes of active cell phone use with the device placed against the head. This is the maximum exposure level there is.

It fails to take into account varying distances of EMF radiation exposure and how these gadgets are used. This begs the question: Is the Apple Watch SAR level a good indicator of whether it is safe? Probably not. Here’s why.

1. SAR Measurements Only Consider Maximum EMF Exposure

As stated before, the FCC’s SAR ratings are based on 30 minutes of actively using a cellular device while it is placed against the head. However, in reality, exposure levels will vary a lot, depending on how the device is being used. Here’s an illustration to help paint the picture.

Suppose that while wearing your Apple Watch on your wrist, you have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi turned on. Perhaps you’ve also enabled cellular connectivity, as well. It goes without saying that when all these features are turned on, the resulting RF radiation will be quite high.

Now, imagine that your Apple Watch was running low on a battery charge, so you decided to activate airplane mode. The levels of EMF radiation emitted in this instance will be much lower than previously.

The FCC’s guidelines don’t outline what would be considered acceptable levels of exposure in both scenarios. The ironic thing is, the 1996 rules, which were designed with cell phones in mind also apply to other wireless devices including Apple watches! It’s all quite bizarre.

2. SAR Measurements Are Only Based on Adult Exposure

The FCC guidelines only consider the impact of RF radiation from cellular devices when adults use them. The reality we live in today is that young children are introduced to wireless gadgets from a very tender age.

Sadly, children are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of EMF radiation exposure than adults are. This is because their organs are much softer since they are still developing. It subsequently increases their susceptibility to absorb much higher amounts of radiation than adults do.

3. SAR Measurements Don’t Paint the Full Picture

The FCC rules only give information on the EMF radiation levels when cell phones are placed against the head. In reality, these and other wireless devices still emit radiation when they are not in use. Therefore, the SAR levels from Apple watches might be higher than the numbers let on.

Additionally, studies show that the methods used to test cellular devices to determine their SAR levels allow for a margin of error of up to 30%. With that kind of variance, it means that some devices may fall outside the acceptable range.

4. SAR Testing Uses Dummies

When running EMF radiation tests, the FCC uses dummies that contain fluids. This isn’t an accurate representation of the human body. Look at it this way: Many people wear earrings, rings, bracelets, and other metallic jewelry. They may also have metal fillings in their teeth, and quite a number even wear glasses with metallic frames.

All these act as antennas and play a major role in how the body absorbs radiation. The SAR ratings don’t consider how these objects amplify the amount of radiation being absorbed.

Should You Be Worried About the EMF Radiation from Your Apple Watch?

Several studies have revealed that certain categories of the population are more vulnerable to the effects of EMF radiation exposure. If you or a loved one falls into any of the following groups, you need to be wary of the amount of radiation being emitted by your Apple Watch.

Effects of EMF Radiation Exposure on Pregnant Women

pregnant woman smiling down while looking at Apple Watch on her wrist

In a study done to investigate the possible correlation between EMF exposure and miscarriages, a group of 913 pregnant women was monitored throughout their pregnancies. Each of them was given a meter to track the cumulative amount of EMF they were exposed to in a typical 24-hour period.

They were also required to record what activities they were doing when they took the readings along with where the aforementioned activities took place. To avoid false findings, researchers also checked for the presence of any other risk factors that could potentially cause a miscarriage to avoid getting false readings.

The expectant women were classified into two groups, and the results were astounding. 75% of the subjects fell into the “high-exposure” category and were found to be three times more likely to miscarry compared to their counterparts in the “low-exposure” group.

In another study that was conducted in 2016, pregnant mice were exposed to extremely low frequency (ELF) EMF. The effects of this exposure on the female mice and their respective offspring were observed. The results were grim. Researchers found 60% less offspring in the “exposed” category of the expectant mice. They observed fetal deformities and spontaneous abortions among the mice that didn’t carry their pregnancies to term — those whose offspring did survive displayed slow development.

From these findings, it is clear that pregnant women need to take extra caution to ensure that they are not exposed to unnecessarily high levels of EMF. While it might be difficult to escape ambient radiation from Wi-Fi routers in public spaces and neighboring homes, you can avoid wearing cellular devices like Apple watches that emit EMF targeted at your unborn baby.

Effects of EMF Exposure on Children

Wondering what to get your child for Christmas? Well, an Apple Watch should be off your list. While you might think of children as miniature adults, they are different on every level – physically, biologically, and chemically.

Children’s bodies are still developing. This means that their cellular, hormonal, tissue, and enzymatic response to toxins and other environmental factors are different from that of adults. Stressors like EMF exposure can have far-reaching effects on their growing bodies as it is much more likely to penetrate the brains of young children.

Children’s tissues contain higher water content since their cells are constantly splitting and growing the more that the child matures. Childhood exposure to EMF would, therefore, cause more widespread damage since these damaged cells continue to multiply. In the long run, this might lead to permanent biological defects like Autism and ADHD that would have otherwise been entirely avoidable.

While it might seem harmless to get your child an Apple Watch, the potential health risks associated with this early exposure aren’t worth it, especially since the technology is still quite new in the larger scheme of things.

How to Protect Yourself from Apple Watch EMF

If you want to safeguard against the adverse effects of EMFs from your Apple Watch, you could start by tossing it out in the garbage. But if you fall into the category of people who can’t live without it, there are some safe practices you can implement into your daily routine to cut down on the amount of exposure you’re getting from the device.  Here are a few measures you can take.

1. Put Your Apple Device on Airplane Mode

This is the most effective strategy you can implement to reduce the amount of EMF exposure you’re getting from your Apple Watch. Airplane mode essentially disconnects all wireless connections to the gadget. You won’t be able to connect to nearby devices via Bluetooth in addition to being disconnected from Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

Doing this not only cuts down on the amount of EMF your Apple Watch emits, but it also drastically reduces the risk of suffering from all the adverse health effects that stem from EMFs.

Bear in mind though, that activating airplane mode means that you won’t get to enjoy the numerous features that come loaded in the gadget. Consider activating wireless networks only when you’re expecting something important.

2. Take It off Before You Hit the Sheets

Apple watches come with features that allow users to track their sleeping patterns. This provides valuable insight into the quality of sleep you’re getting, your heart rate, and nighttime movement. It even has a silent alarm that softly vibrates to wake you up.

Many users, however, are oblivious to the unnecessary EMF exposure they are subjecting themselves to at the time when the body needs to heal and repair itself. There’s also the issue of sleep disturbances brought on by electromagnetic sensitivity.

Your Apple Watch could be interfering with the quality of sleep you’re getting, making it counterintuitive to use it to monitor your sleeping patterns.

While your health concerns are completely valid, wearing your Apple Watch to bed does more harm than good. The fact that it is in direct contact with your body makes it all the more detrimental in the long run in terms of SAR. So, it is in your best interest to take it off before you sleep.

3. Invest in an Apple Watch Radiation Blocker

Getting a radiation blocker for your Apple Watch is a great way to reduce the amount of EMF you’re exposed to while wearing it. It is not only portable, but it also acts as a barrier between the watch and your skin to shield you from all the adverse effects of radiation.

They are quite popular for iPhones, Android-powered smartphones, and many other cellular devices, but not so prevalent for Apple watches. Nevertheless, if you know where to look and are serious about finding them, you’ll find many solid options out there.

4. Get a Pedometer

If fitness and getting your steps in are of paramount importance to you, replacing your Apple Watch with an old school pedometer will not only keep EMF at bay, but it’ll also help you achieve your fitness goals. The fact that it is mechanical makes it completely risk-free.

Here’s my favorite from Amazon. It’s inexpensive and doesn’t have Bluetooth technology.

Smart Technology Comes at a Price

The effects of EMF exposure aren’t immediate. They take a long time to manifest. Unfortunately, when that time comes, it is usually too late to change anything. Taking the right steps now to protect yourself from the harmful effects of EMF is your best bet.

The Apple Watch comes with lots of great features that are a testament to how far technology has come. Nonetheless, users also need to be wary of the associated health risks. Take the necessary measures to protect yourself to avoid paying dearly for it further down the road. Does Bluetooth cause cancer? Read our blog for everything you need to know.

Further reading: Is Bluetooth Radiation as Dangerous as Mobile Radiation?

References

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Hardell L, Carlberg M, Hansson Mild K. Use of mobile phones and cordless phones is associated with increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma. Pathophysiology. 2013 Apr;20(2):85-110. doi: 10.1016/j.pathophys.2012.11.001. Epub 2012 Dec 21.

Beniashvili D, Avinoach’m I, Baasov D, Zusman I. The role of household electromagnetic fields in the development of mammary tumors in women: clinical case-record observations. Med Sci Monit 2005;11:CR10–3

Cao YN, Zhang Y, Liu Y. Effects of exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields on reproduction of female mice and development of offsprings. Zhonghua Lao Dong Wei Sheng Zhi Ye Bing Za Zhi. 2006 Aug;24(8):468-70.

Draper G, Vincent T, Kroll ME, Swanson J. Childhood cancer in relation to distance from high voltage power lines in England and Wales: a case–control study. Br Med J2005;330:1290.