Odds are that if you purchased any electronic device in recent history, you’re pretty familiar with Bluetooth technology. You probably use it in your day-to-day life, whether it’s to hook up your wireless earbuds to your phone or transfer files between devices.
Ever since this technology came out in 1999, it’s drastically changed the way we go about using electronics every day. However, you may have heard talk of how Bluetooth might pose some problems for your physical health and/or your information security. The “Is Bluetooth safe?” question is a common one. We’re here to address those concerns about Bluetooth safety and make sure that you understand the ins and outs of this technology.
Bluetooth safety and your physical health
One of the most common rumors about Bluetooth is that it emits levels of radiation that can cause anything from infertility to brain dysfunction. The basis of those claims is the radio waves that Bluetooth uses to communicate between devices. In reality, those waves are way more common than you think, and there’s no evidence to suggest that they’re actually harmful to people. Here’s why:
Frequency waves like the ones that Bluetooth uses are something that you encounter all day every day. Whether they're from your microwave or your Wi-Fi connection, in this day and age, they’re pretty much everywhere. Compared to other types of waves that you might be subjected to, Bluetooth is fairly low impact.
You may notice that your Bluetooth devices can’t connect to each other from very far away. Typically, the range only spans about 30 to 35 feet. The connection is not strong enough to connect through obstacles like walls, which is why you might have trouble connecting the headphones you’re wearing in your bedroom to the phone that you left in the living room. Both of these features illustrate how Bluetooth radio waves aren’t nearly as powerful as you might think.
Don’t get us wrong. Bluetooth technology does
Of course, the word “radiation” might spark a little fear. You probably associate it with things like x-rays, which are substantially more risky than other types of radiation you encounter day to day. In reality, the sun emits stronger radiation levels than most technology that you come across regularly (unless you’re an x-ray technician, in which case, disregard).
Radiation and your body
There are two types of radiation that you might encounter. The scientific names for them are ionizing and non-ionizing. We won’t get too into the nitty-gritty about these, but here’s what you need to know: ionizing radiation is the stronger one (think x-rays). It’s powerful enough to affect individual atoms.
Non-ionizing radiation - the kind that comes from devices like cell phones and computers - is not strong enough to cause atomic changes. It can heat things up (see microwave example above), but it won’t change an atom’s charge. All that to say, Bluetooth is an example of non-ionizing radiation. It’s on the weaker side of the spectrum.
The human body is capable of absorbing energy. Here in the US, standards are in place to ensure that no technology is produced that emits more energy than your body can safely handle. In the case of Bluetooth, the energy emitted is far less than the maximum legal amount. Interestingly, your cell phone produces more of that absorbable radiation than Bluetooth does.
No studies have uncovered a direct connection between Bluetooth radio waves and physical ailments. We won’t get into the details of every individual study, but the summary is that there isn’t a scientific link between Bluetooth and health complications.
Of course, it’s not recommended to take a Bluetooth device and hold it right up to your head for prolonged periods of time. After all, there is radiation coming from it; on principle, you shouldn’t deliberately subject yourself to excessive quantities of it. Even though we haven’t linked these waves to physical health issues, it’s important to keep best practices in mind.
That was a lot of information on Bluetooth safety, and some of it was on the more technical side.
TL;DR: No scientific evidence has definitively linked Bluetooth to health concerns. Other technologies that you use every day emit far more radiation than Bluetooth does. Since Bluetooth radio waves are in a completely different category than those known to be more harmful, like x-rays, they won’t pose the same risks. Moral of the story: Based on current findings, Bluetooth safety risks aren't anything to worry about.
Bluetooth security and your personal info
In addition to physical health considerations, many people are curious about how safe Bluetooth is when it comes to your data. Since Bluetooth is often used on devices that carry personal information, it’s an understandable concern. However, as long as you take the proper precautions, Bluetooth is a secure method of wireless communication.
There are a few different reasons why data transferred via Bluetooth is more secure than a lot of other wireless technologies. First of all, you generally have to deliberately select the device you want to connect to. For instance, it would be difficult for a hacker to connect their device to your cell phone without you knowing or approving of it. Additionally, since Bluetooth has such a short range, a hacker would have to be within 30 feet of your device. Generally speaking, it’s hard to be discreet in such close quarters.
Just like every other wireless technology, there’s the potential for the interception of information. Here are the three most common ways that this could happen:
A hacker might connect to your Bluetooth connection and use it to extract data. As mentioned above, they’d have to be in super close range, so this one’s relatively unlikely.
They could send you some kind of scam message that prompts you to open Bluetooth. As long as you do your due diligence and don’t click any links from unknown numbers, your Bluetooth security is safe from this one.
It’s possible for a fluke in the production process to make your Bluetooth device susceptible to hacking. Luckily, all the big names in tech are aware of this, so they take lots of precautions to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Here are a couple of things that you can do to ensure that your Bluetooth security isn't compromised:
Make sure to turn off the Bluetooth functionality of your device if you’re not actively using it. If you keep it on, the device will be discoverable by other people looking to connect to Bluetooth networks. By turning it off, you make your device inaccessible to people searching for connectable technologies.
Avoid connecting to Bluetooth devices that aren’t your own. If you’re using a public computer, a friend's tablet, a rental car, or any other Bluetooth-enabled device that doesn’t belong to you, make sure that you properly disconnect when you’re finished.
Bluetooth devices are a regular part of our lives. Whether it’s your cell phone, computer, or tablet, you probably interact with this type of wireless communication pretty consistently.
Although concerns have been raised about Bluetooth safety, all signs point to the fact that using this technology isn’t particularly risky. Little evidence exists to suggest that your physical health might be jeopardized by Bluetooth waves. Additionally, thanks to modern technology and user intelligence, the likelihood of a Bluetooth security breach is not particularly high.
Since you encounter this technology so frequently, it makes sense to be wary of Bluetooth safety. However, you can rest assured that, according to current scientific and technological findings, Bluetooth doesn't threaten your health or security.