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Fitbit EMF Radiation – Are Fitbits Safe?
There is a tremendous amount of confusion surrounding radiation in general today, and the confusion is understandable. Aside from there being different types of radiation, the scientific community holds mixed opinions on the effects of radiation on biologic life.
To top it off, the science is constantly changing position. Clear as mud, right?
Most of us are aware that modern wireless technology uses a form of radiation to provide connections with other devices. Our cell phones, tablets, and laptops all use this same technology.
Fitbits also transfer data with a wireless connection that relies on electromagnetic radiation.
Since they track fitness by being worn in close proximity all day, and often all night, many Fitbit users are questioning if Fitbits are safe.
When you first setup your Fitbit you’ll be prompted to sync the new device with your smartphone. You probably already know that your smart phone communicates with cellular data, WiFi, as well as Bluetooth. These are all forms of EMF radiation, and it’s important to sort them out before you can make an informed decision about Fitbit EMF radiation.
With that said, lets jump into a bit of background info that will help to sort out how Fitbit technology works.
Does A Fitbit Emit EMF Radiation?
Electric and magnetic field (EMF) radiation is produced by a wide array of electrical devices that we use in our day-to-day lives. These include cellphones, computers, wireless routers, and microwaves among others.
EMF radiation can also occur naturally in the rays of the sun. Electromagnetic radiation is also produced by medical equipment such as X-rays and MRI machines, but in different forms. As we will see, some types of radiation exposure is already strictly limited.
There are two types of EMF radiation, low-level, or non-ionizing radiation, and high-level, or ionizing radiation. Low-level is generally associated with domestic electrical appliances, power lines, and cell phones, while higher-level radiation is associated with x-rays and ultraviolet rays of the sun.
Just like with many other electronic devices, a Fitbit will emit EMF radiation. This is not unlike other domestic electrical items, as it is the low-level non-ionizing form of radiation.
The EMF radiation within a Fitbit comes from the devices Bluetooth signal. As the Fitbit is constantly sending information about the wearer’s heartbeat, activity, and sleep patterns to another device, it will continually emit radiation. In order to get the full benefit from the Fitbit’s fitness tracking features, a wearer will need to have the device on their wrist at all times.
Bluetooth is a short-link radio technology for sending data between devices in close proximity. It is a known emitter of EMF radiation. There are three classes of Bluetooth device, with the most powerful emitting the most EMF radiation. Although Bluetooth devices only emit a very small amount of radiation, prolonged use may have potential long-term effects.
Research into the health implications of EMF radiation from Bluetooth devices often shows there to be no impact on health. When applying this data to Fitbits, there are two considerations that need to be factored. Firstly, much of the research into Bluetooth technology has been carried out by the cellphone industry and may have an inherent bias. And secondly, most Bluetooth devices do not require 24/7 contact, as the Fitbit does.
How a Fitbit Works
A Fitbit is worn at all times on the wrist. It has a set of sensors that make it possible to measure your heart rate and your movement throughout the course of a day.
A 3-axis accelerometer makes it possible for the device to count your footsteps, while also being able to tell whether you are climbing stairs. This data is collated and analyzed. It is possible to view this information on a device such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
The software algorithms will be able to work out how many calories you will have burned based through your activity levels, while the apps connected to the Fitbit will track activity and sleep goals on a daily basis.
Fitbit Health Risks
The major concerns associated with Fitbit center around the EMF radiation produced through the FitBit Bluetooth signal that the device is constantly emitting.
Although it is not uncommon to be around devices that are emitting Bluetooth such as cellphones, in-car devices, and Bluetooth headsets, Fitbits require a greater degree of physical contact, with many wearers never actually taking them off.
While many of the concerns associated with the level of EMF radiation produced by Fitbits may be long-term, it is possible for users to have an acute sensitivity to EMF radiation. This may manifest in a variety of symptoms including headaches, foggy head, issues with sleep, and mood swings.
Does Fitbit EMF Radiation Affect Sleep?
Wearing the Fitbit while asleep provides users with one of the device’s key features. The Fitbit has the ability to track and monitor sleep patterns while measuring heart rate and physical activity in the night to paint a picture of how restful your sleep is, and how long you are sleeping for each night. The Fitbit also has a silent alarm function that wakes the wearer in the morning.
Of course, to make use of all of these benefits, the device needs to be worn all night. This increases exposure to EMF radiation.
EMF radiation has been found to impact melatonin production, a hormone that is linked to the regulation of sleep cycles. This is due to the pineal gland seeing EMF radiation as light, which, in turn, slows the production of melatonin causing the body to think that it is the day.
So, while, the Fitbit is designed to track sleep, it may be causing a reduction in the actual amount that their wearers may be restfully sleeping.
Are Fitbit Rashes Caused By EMF Radiation?
Many people report getting a rash by wearing their Fitbit. With rashes being a potential side effect of exposure to Fitbit EMF radiation, it may be assumed that this the cause.
A recall of the Fitbit Force in 2014 was carried out due to complaints of rashes. The company stated that this was due to adhesive used in the manufacture of the band. Following on from the re-issue of redesigned models, there were continued complaints about rashes which the company then attributed to nickel allergies.
These complaints have largely been resolved, and there have not been issues on the same scale since, but there are still occasional cases where users report getting a rash from wearing the device.
Given the ratio of the complaints of skin irritation, it is likely that these are genuine allergies, or are caused by improper wear.
This video shows EMF meter readings from Fitbit EMF radiation:
Do Fitbits Cause Cancer?
A major long-term health issue that many people may be concerned about being linked to Fitbit EMF radiation is that of cancer. Prolonged exposure to both non-ionizing radiation and cell phone use have been found to be the cause of glioma, a type of tumour that originates in the glial cells of the brain.
There are plenty of electrical items within the home that emit a greater degree of EMF radiation that fitness trackers. For example, wireless routers and microwaves are responsible for producing higher EMF radiation levels than a Fitbit. However, none of these appliances or devices is used at such great proximity and for such a prolonged amount of time.
Given the exposure generated by the use of fitness trackers, it may lead users to question are Fitbits safe? FCC guidelines imply that the emissions levels are below the safe limits, however, this only looks the intensity of the radiation rather than the length of exposure.
The FFC reports that results of studies linking RF exposure and cancer have been inconclusive, however, with Fitbits and other fitness trackers being a relatively new technology, further research will be necessary.
What Fitbit Has to Say About the EMF Radiation from Their Devices
With Fitbit radiation being a continued concern to many users, and researchers, the company that makes Fitbit have been asked about the potential issues surrounding EMF radiation in the devices on a number of occasions.
Fitbit has responded in the same way to all of the concerns regarding EMF radiation in their devices. They acknowledge that there their devices do emit a very small amount of EMF radiation, however, the amount of radiation is too low to cause harm.
They have reported that the amount of radiation emitted by a Fitbit is actually less than 1% of that of the typical power output of a cell phone and that Bluetooth emissions are negligible to users.
Fitbit is right in this claim. It is true to say that the level of emissions from a Bluetooth device will be much lower than that of a cellphone, however, in this instance, the comparison is not helpful, as you are not necessarily in constant physical contact with your cell phone.
While there may be an element of truth regarding the level of EMF radiation that is actually emitted, these statements do not factor in the continuous duration of the exposure and the possibility that prolonged use may have a negative effect on the wearer’s health.
Comparing cell phones to fitness trackers is problematic from the respect of the available information. Cell phone manufacturers are required to publish information on the Specific Absorption Rates (SAR) of radiation for all mobile phones, however, this is not a legal requirement for Bluetooth devices such as the Fitbit. Therefore, the company that makes Fitbit has not made this information accessible to the public.
In other statements made by Fitbit, it is pointed out that the FCC regulations surrounding EMF radiation consider that the emissions from devices such as the Fitbit to be so low, that they are in a different category of device to items such as cell phones.
This type of statement is possibly in reference to the SAR ratings. One opinion might be that SAR level testing is problematic in itself. This is because the SAR level is measured against an adult brain, whereas children are more susceptible to radiation. The SAR ratings only relate to how much the device is emitting when it is actually touching the body, and not at other times. The SAR testing is only carried out on dummies that are representative of human tissue, but that doesn’t account for any metals such as piercings and fillings that may be present in a human body which may affect radiation absorption.
FCC Regulations on EMF Radiation: Can They Be Trusted?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) publishes guidelines around the use of radiofrequency (RF) technology that emits EMF radiation.
The FFC determine what it deems to be the safe limits for EMF radiation in all consumer electrical items, including devices such as the Fitbit. As previously mentioned, much of the FCC guidelines focus on Specific Absorption Rates which don’t factor the increased vulnerability of a child’s body, how EMF radiation levels are affected while the device is not touching the user, and how metal found in jewellery can affect the absorption of radiation.
The FCC regulations surrounding EMF radiation are lower than the standards found in many other countries.
Minimize Exposure for a Healthier Life
While Fitbits do emit EMF radiation, so too do many other items that you will be exposed to on a daily basis. This means that you may be exposed to a cumulative buildup of EMF radiation from a range of different devices. Managing and minimizing your exposure to this EMF radiation emission can help, particularly if you have a sensitivity to EMF radiation that provides symptoms such as headaches, or depression.
Measuring your own personal exposure to EMF radiation can be done through the use of an EMF meter. If the level of radiation emitted by a device that you own or use on a regular basis is higher than you are comfortable with, you should think about limiting your use of this.
Although we are discussing Fitbits, EMF radiation does extend to a wide variety of other digital technologies that are widely used in our homes and in our daily lives. This includes laptops, routers, and even devices such as smart meters.
Reducing exposure to devices that emit EMF radiation during the nighttime may help you to get a better night’s sleep. While this does include the Fitbit, it also means other devices that you may use late into the night, or have close to your sleeping area, such as cell phones. Many people choose to switch their phones off at night or leave them in a different room. It is also often advised that users only use their cell phone up until a couple of hours before they intend on sleeping
If you are looking to use a fitness tracker and are concerned about the radiation levels found in devices that pair with smartphones, there are many different digital pedometers on the market which offer the ability to count footsteps and monitor activity levels. You could also look for an alternative that does not rely on a constant Bluetooth connection.
While there has currently been limited research into the specific dangers that may be implicit in the use of wearable tech such as Fitbits, having an understanding of the concerns surrounding Fitbit radiation will be helpful in allowing appropriate decisions to be made based on your own judgements.
Some Last Thoughts On Fitbit EMF Radiation:
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