Aug 07

emflogo

Over the past few weeks I’ve measured the EMF levels of various Apple devices using a hand-held RF field strength meter. (It measures frequencies from 50MHz to 3.5GHz). I measured EMF levels of an Apple iPhone, iPad, Mac Mini, iMac, Apple Airport Base station, Apple LCD display, and Apple bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

Introduction

Electro magnetic fields (EMF) are a form of energy. Light is part of the EMF spectrum, so are radio waves, X-rays and microwaves.

There’s a long standing debate about whether EMF radiation emitted from mobile phones and other electronic devices is dangerous or not. It’s not the aim of this article to enter into that debate, but rather to provide some information about EMF levels from various pieces of Macintosh hardware. If you want to consider how EMF affects your body I have written an article on the health impacts of EMF here.

This article contains the measurements of the EMF levels of various Macintosh devices.

I’ve split them up into various graphs below.

Low EMF producers.

emf-low

 

‘background’ is the background EMF level at out house which is 7km out of town.  It is very low at 3mV/m. The closest city to where we live, Dubbo (population 40,000)  has a background EMF level between 50 and 150 mV/m.

The EMF measurements above were all taken at the position of the user’s head in normal use, with the computer or portable device at a comfortable distance away.

For the ‘Macbook @ user’s head’ a macbook was sitting on a stand on a desk at a comfortable position  and the head was approx 0.4m away from the screen. WiFi was turned on. In most of these tests wifi is on. You can see the difference with iMac – idle and iMac – wifi.

The iPad was being held by hand about the same distance from the head, with WiFi on.

The iMac was at a desk and I was sitting in front of it with my head 0.5m from the screen, with WiFi on.

For “Airport Extreme @ 0.5m”  the WiFi base station was sitting on the side of my desk and the measurements were also taken at a distance of 0.5m.

‘iMac idle’ is the EMF output of the iMac when WiFi and Bluetooth are both turned off, the computer is still on. Macbook idle and Mac-Mini idle are also low but I have not put them on the graph.

‘driving in car’ is the EMF inside our Toyota Corolla when the engine is running – for the sake of comparison.

Now, let’s put the above measurements into perspective.

 

The highest EMF producers.

Here is a graph of the EMF levels measured near a DECT cordless phone, an iPhone 5, and a bluetooth headset.

emfhigh

The first measurement here is from a Uniden DECT cordless phone. When the phone was in use the output was 20,000 mV/m. That is huge!

Step one in lowering your EMF exposure would be to stop using a Cordless DECT phone if you have one.

The next highest is the iPhone 5. This was measured at the ear during a cellular mobile phone voice call with wifi on.

The EMF from a Bose bluetooth in-ear headset was 2500 mV/m measured at the earpiece. This was surprising given that bluetooth is meant to have lower range and lower power.  The output from an Apple bluetooth mouse and keyboard was similarly high. (not shown on graph).

This shows that a bluetooth device at very close range can have higher EMF levels than a WiFi device at medium range.

The EMF from a Macbook measured 5cm above the keyboard with WiFi on was 2000. This is not normally where you would put your head or body, but I included this measurement for the sake of a comparison, or if you are worried about EMF exposure at your hands.

 

Lowering the EMF exposure from your iPhone

The major cause of EMF emissions in these devices is not the device itself, but the cellular, WiFi and Bluetooth radios.  DECT and cellular mobile phone are obviously very high power. But this decreases with distance.

The EMF from an iPhone was significantly lower (200 times less) when using either the Apple earbud headphones or using the Phone in handsfree mode to keep it further from your head.  The EMF levels drop dramatically with distance as the graph below shows.

There have been all sorts of weird and wonderful devices to reduce iPhone EMF exposure – shielding cases, aluminium caps and so on. But the EMF exposure can be reduced very easily by not holding the iPhone to your ear.

emfiphone

‘on ear’ is using the iPhone 5 with the iPhone held against the ear.

‘headphones’  is the EMF level measured at the earbud with the iPhone a comfortable distance away.

‘handsfree’ is the same as headphones but using the phone in handsfree mode instead of with headphones.

Handsfree and headphones don’t appear any different in terms of EMF levels. (No EMF travels down the headphone cable, or at least no detectable levels.)

The ‘idle’ measurement is made when the iPhone is in flight mode but still turned on.

It’s disappointing that Apple don’t make these EMF levels available. In fact, they actively try to suppress such information. There is an Android/iPhone app called tawkon that monitors the EMF output of your phone. (The EMF level changes depending on what you are doing and what phone towers are nearby.) Tawkon let’s you see the EMF output of your phone and it can even alert you when it gets too high. According to this c-net article Apple banned the App from iPhone users.

 

WiFi EMF

Here is a graph showing how the WiFi output of various Macintosh computers and iOS devices compare. I haven’t included Bluetooth because, surprisingly, I did not notice much difference between Bluetooth and WiFi levels in normal usage. Bluetooth was only slightly less than WiFi.

emf

The EMF from a Mac-Mini was noticeably lower than other devices. This is not because the Mac Mini was emitting any less EMF. (The measurements up close to it were very similar to the iMac.) The results were lower because it sits down at the back of the desk with a cable connecting it to the display, rather than being raised and in front of the user.

The variations in the above graph are mainly due to the position of the computer in relation to your head. The power allowed in a WiFi network is limited by law so that means the power is fairly constant across devices. This means the distance you are away is the main factor. The closer you are, the more EMF. The iMac has a large screen so you tend to sit further back – less EMF exposure. The Macbook has a smaller screen so you tend to sit closer – more EMF exposure.

Conclusions

This article is a good reminder that EMF levels are mainly dependant on the distance of the user from the device.

If  you have a WiFi network,  you will get better speeds at closer range. If you are having speed or connectivity issues with your WiFi network the first thing to try would be to put your computer closer to your base station.

If you are interested in reducing your exposure to EMF, it’s the old 20/80 rule. 20% of the work will result in 80% result, and the other 20% result will take 80% more work.

By a very simple change – using your phone handsfree (or earbud) and swapping your cordless (DECT) phone for a landline, you will dramatically reduce your EMF exposure.

The next step would be to turn off your WiFi network overnight.

The next step is getting much harder:  turn off WiFi altogether and turn off Bluetooth. This will reduce your EMF to almost background levels but this will be quite a commitment.

When your WiFi and Bluetooth are turned off, and you iPhone is in flight mode, the EMF output of your computer is so low as to almost match background levels. If you live in a city, you will probably not even be able to detect the EMF levels of your computer or display when WiFi and bluetooth are turned off.

Here is an article by someone else who has done some measurements.

 

 

 

36 Responses to “EMF levels of Apple devices”

  1. Jennifer says:

    Hi
    Your article of Aug 7th was a pretty solid assessment. I have taken a strong interest in this topic due to my health sensitivities. I have aleady put alot of your suggestions into place but am finding it challenging to find out how to disable the wifi being emitted from my Apple TV even though I use it via an ethernet cable. Any ideas?
    Thank you.
    Jennifer

  2. Brett says:

    I agree that this is a fantastic review and I especially like that it addresses the emf of a device in airplane mode, which I’ve found difficult to find elsewhere on the net. I’m interested in this specific value because I like to use the SleepCycle app to track my sleeping patterns and the phone needs to be on the bed (partially under the pillow on the corner of the bed) to detect my sleep movements. I have been putting it into airplane mode but wondered what the emf was even in this mode. Admittedly, the phone is plugged into power and spends the first hour or so charging so I’m sure that the emf is larger than the value cited in this article.
    What I would like to see added is some discussion on industry acceptable levels to give us something to compare the values in this article to. Without them, they are just numbers. Obviously, lower numbers are better but what is classed as an acceptable level and when is it deemed to be dangerous?
    I also hear that iPhone6 has a much higher emf than previous iPhones so adding them to this article would be very helpful.
    But a BIG thanks for what you’ve done!!!

    • François Labbé says:

      You should never use Wi-Fi at all. All those fun apps are not more important than your health. It is recognise across the world by biologiest (do your research) that Wi-Fi disrupt sleep patern as well as what we call blue screen. Think again, you are not only letting your phone all night on, close to your brain, and on top of that, you have it plugged into the outlet so it can recharge. Really bad habit. Have you tested your sleep with your phone off and away from your bedroom? That is probably what started you having trouble to sleep. One question for you, you say you put your phone on airplane mode and the apps still works and give you stats the next morning?

  3. Adrian says:

    I’m having and using iPad Air and iphone 6 plus both with cabled internet connection in air plain mode, that was the best available option for it, the cambling system costs a bit but I prefer the rf free ways. This is the key if you wanna avoid RF exposure, and about electro magnetic exposure which you get from any of your electric devices connected with the main electric system whatever , TV, monitor, computer, reading lamp….the solve that issue the key is the grounding, to ground the device or it must have a grounded 3 prongs plug, good sample is the Mac mini has no grounded cord, this silly solution came up as a hyped advantage by apple saying there is no more bulky cable ( while of course they save cost on it as the ungrounded cord costs less) while they talk about it as a fashionable improvement , just a smart hype bullshit from apple as we can expect it. This is why many people doesn’t understand why if they touch their Mac mini they feel a mild electric shock on its housing surface. I also like parts of Apple devices and their system but I don’t like that they ignore some health conscious part of thei Bussiness it’s just because most of their customer still buy it with no question who never even heard about the RF/Emf issues or grounding, that’s the majority so they have no reason to change it as long as the bussiness going that well.

    • Wayne says:

      how do you use a cabled internet connection with an iPad?

      • François says:

        Look it up on you tube Wayne. You will find out it’s really easy. Even then, you will need to make sure to keep your device at least 12 inches from your body. Look it up in your manual. Apple wrote it somewhere in there so that even if you get sick they can say you should have known.

      • Wayne says:

        That’s a nice little hack.

        To plug an iPad into the ethernet…

        plug an “apple lightning to USB camera adapter” into your iPad
        plug a powered USB hub into the lightning-USB adapter
        plug an “apple USB to ethernet adapter” into the hub
        plug ethernet cable into the USB-ethernet adapter.
        I can’t believe that works!

  4. Glenn says:

    My question is about the iWatch. I was going to buy a FitBit, but as I understand it, the Bluetooth is transmitting all the time (I may be wrong about this but this is my conclusion based on my research). I wanted to see if the iwatch is different. I want to have something that tracks my sleep and activity, and then the radiation only happens during the sync process. Can you shed some light on this? Thanks.

    • François says:

      Plenty of comments on Apple’s web site. Many people are returning their so loved iWatch because they are in pain when they use it even after a few hours if not minutes. Same experience as with Fitbit… Go read some of them Wayne to document yourself. If not you may end up like many and not be able to use any of your Apple gadgets. I love them myself but I have to learn again how to use them safely like many electronic or electric devices. Always keep in mind that your health is more important than those toys.
      https://discussions.apple.com/thread/7029361?tstart=0

      • Wayne says:

        I think that support thread is more about physical problems with the iWatch.
        The iWatch does have Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, so I wouldn’t be wearing one, but the levels are significantly less than a mobile phone, like approximately 1/45 the EMF or something like that. I have not tested the EMF levels of an iWatch, but there’s a good article about it here which looks at the SAR values.

  5. Evan S. says:

    Hey Wayne,

    I’m curious if you have done any further testing or if you have any more data from your original tests you could share with me. I have a friend who is interested in the EMF exposure of macintosh products, and I would like to be able to be as thorough as I can when talking to her. If you could email me that would be great.

  6. susan says:

    Hi I have an Apple mac pro 2012 the latest version. I have found that even with WIFI turned off I get numbness and tingling in my fingers via the mouse pad .. why is this ?? I also get blocked ears after being on the internet via Ethernet NOT WIRELESS !! I thought apple mac would be the least of the evils re EMF ?? am I wrong here .. any suggestions re the mouse pad .. thanks :-)

    • Wayne says:

      The tingling is nothing to do with EMF, I get that too. Some kind of stray voltage in the aluminium computer case, it only happens when plugged into the charger. Stings when your wrists hit the corner of the computer!

      Use a usb mouse and external keyboard to avoid that.

      Blocks ears?? Maybe something to do with the way you hold your head, or tension in your muscles?

  7. Jacquie says:

    Hi, I love my ipad and kindle, and often use for hours on end on aeroplane mode. Would the EMF rays be low enough not to warrant too much a concern? I would put it on a cushion too.
    Thank you!

  8. Hugo Dunkel says:

    hello people!

    I really appreciate that there is such a discussion on the emf issues concerning Apple devices.

    I own a Macbook Air for 5 years now and my life has been a hell whenever i have to use it (which is mainly everyday). pain, diarrhea, cracking bones, open wounds, teeth grinding, altered circadian rhythm…

    I’m into investing some money to get a new working computer environment, so i thought about buying a mac mini, because I can put it far away. I would like to have your suggestions about how to set the safest Apple working environment.

    would you had something to add to the following:

    – opt for ethernet ( which is a shame because I have free wifi and will have to start paying a monthly fee, hope there would be kind of an wifi receptor that I could put far away and connect via cable to a mac mini to keep on profiting from free internet connection)

    – opt for the mini mac (distance will lower exposure), ground it (won’t it be automatically grounded if connected to a screen that has grounded cord connected to a grounded plug?)

    – connect screen (which kind?, I bought one to connect with my macbook air, but resolution was so poor that I had to quite)

    – connect mouse (wich?)

    – connect keyboard (which kind? mac keyboard are now in aluminium that seems to be conducting a lot of energy!)

    thanks for sharing and appreciate all help!

    • Wayne says:

      Just turn off wifi. Those measurements for the macbook were all with wifi on. With wifi and bluetooth turned off the emf reduces to practically zero.

      • Hugo Dunkel says:

        thanks Wayne, true is that even if working with mackbook air offline I feel very unconfortable. Since I wrote the comment I set a computer environment with external display, mouse and keyboard and I can stand working fro much longer. I might try to find a sphere mouse, the one I have is lazer, true is that I’m still using wifi but the computer is quite far from me! As soon I move to my new house I will have cable connection and will share the diferences. I still feel gastric inflammation, drying of the hand skin, flaky scalp and tingling scrotum.

  9. Not so nuts? says:

    This thread make me feel like I may not be nuts after all. I have an iPad that is enclosed in a plastic case. When I use it, I try to keep it as far from me as possible. (By this, I mean arms outstretched with the device on the sofa or table (not on my body)). Nonetheless, after 20 minutes or so, I feel pain in my pelvis region (I am female). If I keep going, the feeling can be quite strong. Everyone tells me I am nuts, but this is not an imaginary sensation. I experience this feeling when the device is on wifi and/or cellular modes. EMF? If so, what can I do (short of giving away the ipad)?

    BTW, I also get a serious headache if I hold a cell phone to my ear. I can’t get near smart phones and only use an old flip phone with a fairly low SARm and try to always use the speaker phone. Am guessing I am particularly sensitive. Kind of sucks in this digital age.

    • Wayne says:

      The first step would be to turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and give that a go and see if it makes any difference. IT would be good to hear back as to the difference.

    • Allen says:

      You’re not nuts. I use an iPad Pro which I love but just a few minutes on my lap and my pelvic area hurts and so will my fingers . Also headache if we’re watching anything on it for longer than 20 minutes . If we do I place the iPad standing up on a plastic toolbox in between the two of us in bed so we can comfortably watch the show.

  10. Russell says:

    Wayne, I’m sure that many of us are disappointed that Apple isn’t putting a jack into their new 7 phone. So, I guess that’s the end of earbuds… (sigh). How bad are the bluetooth earplugs? I’m assuming they’re not good on emf….

    Is our only option to switch to another phone with a jack, or is there a safe way to use the phone without disturbing everyone around us with the speaker option?

    Thanks.

  11. My iMac is my business tool and I spend HOURS on it.
    I’ve sensed the gravity pull sitting too close to it. I get tingling in my head being around it.
    I use ethernet cable instead of wifi.
    Is there any kind of shield to protect me?

    • Wayne says:

      Make sure that you have BOTH wifi off and bluetooth off. Use a USB mouse and keyboard.

      The EMF from the iMac with WiFi and Bluetooth off is practically zero. (If you live in a town or city the background EMF will be more than the iMac.)

  12. William Wellesley says:

    Last week I bought a current model of iMac that comes with the latest apple bluetooth input devices: the magic keyboard2 and magic trackpad2. I need to spend a long time in front of the devices each day. I’m concerned about the bluetooth radiation, especially from the two bluetooth input devices. I’ve turned off both the bluetooth and WiFi off on my iMac and connected them instead with the Apple USB lighting cables. The lighting cables that come with the input devices serve dual purposes of charging and pairing/connecting the devices, so even if the bluetooth on my iMac is currently turned off, i can still use both devices normally. Do the magic keyboard 2 and trackpad 2 still emit bluetooth radiation even if they are via cables instead of bluetooth? Have you tested the emission from the two devices while they were connected via the lighting cables with bluetooth on iMac turned off?

    The magic keyboard2’s signal is surely strong, which raised my concern about its potential harmful effect on human bodies. I did a small experiment on it yesterday. I paired the, apple magic keyboard2 with my iMac wireless through Bluetooth, then carried it to the other end of my house with several walls blocking it from my iMac, and typed on it. Then i returned to my iMac in my room and found out that the letters that i typed far away on the other end were all shown on my iMac correctly. Apparently, the bluetooth signal emitted from the magic keyboard2 penetrated several walls over a distance of at least 30 feet. I can’t think what gonna happen to me if i sit at zero distance from it for hours everyday.

  13. William Wellesley says:

    Is bluetooth more harmful than WiFi?

  14. William Wellesly says:

    Hi Wayne, when you were recording the number from “iMac idle”, were the bluetooth keyboard and mouse turned on?

    • Wayne says:

      No, just the iMac. When bluetooth and wifi are on the EMF levels are much higher as indicated in the graph. When bluetooth and wifi are off the EMF is negligible.

  15. Joff says:

    Wayne – thanks for all your efforts to write this. One of the most useful articles I’ve read on this. I’d say my troubles began 10 years ago with my first Blackberry which I think was probably 2G. It has only go worse but now really doing something about it especially now I’m on a 4g i phone! Looking to revert to a simple phone only. Who really needs all the constant connectivity crap. Do we really need it? I don’t think so. On reflection i’d say that portable computing is part of the problem as we are so much closer to our devices. I now switch all wifi and bluetooth off and only use them for short term periodic syncing of devices (including my Garmin vivio HR which uses blue-tooth). Periodic syncing works fine. However still have a DECT phone (working on getting rid of that too!!!). Metal bodied computers probably not the best idea either. Apple should revert to plastic!

    Just been reading Earthing by Ober, Sinatra and Zucker. This book discusses the need for the human body to be naturally earthed. Especially in a high EMF world. You need to look into this also. You’ll get it when you read it.

    This is also a very good article by Andrew Goldsworthy on the effects of EMF at the cellular level:
    http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/scalar_tech/esp_scalartech_cellphonesmicrowave44.htm

    As I go through this stuff I’m really losing respect for Apple. It has become just another large corporate with a fundamental lack of ethics and concern for its customers. It needs pay attention to this now!

    Onwards to the truth! Thanks again Wayne.

  16. Aiko says:

    Thank you so much for this article. I usually have my phone (I have iPhone 7) on Airplane mode, but sometimes I turned the mode off if I’m expecting an incoming call. I place the phone somewhere away from where I sit in that case. But how far do I need to be in order to have almost no effect of EMF? Also, I try composing the text with airplane mode on, and then when I’m ready to send it, I turned the airplane mode off. It was mentioned in one of the responses that when you hit “send,” there will be a blast of EMF. What would be the best thing to do then? Stretch your arm, hit “send” and immediately run away? I’m purchasing Blocksock (cell phone EMF shielded pouch). Maybe I can cover most of the phone on the front side which I’m facing with, and try to deflect EMF… Thank you.

  17. Nancy says:

    Great article. I know how to connect my iPad to Ethernet so it is wired but what about the Apple Pencil? It’s a Bluetooth device. How much emf does that create? What can I do to reduce its effect.

    • Wayne says:

      My personal view is that you use what you need to (e.g. a bluetooth Apple Pencil) if there is no alternative. Just get rid of EMF that is easy to avoid. A few simple steps can reduce your EMF exposure 100 fold. I wouldn’t stress over a pencil. Don’t store it on top of your ear or in your pocket when you’re not using it.

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