Molded in-ear monitors for drummers, musicians, and audio engineers are generally safe. However, there are fears that they may harm developing babies. In this article, let’s find out whether wireless in-ear monitors are truly safe or not during pregnancy.
Exposure to Non-Ionizing Radiation – Does It Affect Baby in Womb?
You may not know it, but you’re constantly exposed to low levels of man-made and natural non-ionizing radiation because of the presence of radio frequency (RF) signals in the environment. Sources of this kind of radiation include cell phones, Bluetooth-enabled devices, broadcasting radio signals, WiFi, and 2-way radios.
What exactly is non-ionizing radiation? Simply put, it’s a type of radiation that doesn’t have enough energy to remove tightly bound electrons from an atom. Ionization is one of the main ways that radiation is able to pass on energy to any matter (e.g., solids, liquids, and gases).
There are good reasons for being wary of the claims that non-ionizing radiation can cause harmful effects on human health. Based on the seven decades of research on the potential biological effects of radio frequency exposure, the Health Physics Society suggests there’s no solid proof that exposure to low-intensity radio frequency can cause birth defects or female reproductive problems.
Besides, non-ionizing radiation doesn’t usually emit high levels of radiation that can penetrate deep into the body tissues. Therefore, the brain of an unborn baby should be safe because it’s well protected by the mother’s uterus and surrounding tissues.
However, if the level of non-ionizing radiation exceeds the internationally recommended limits (more than 0.1 gray or Gy), there’s a possibility that it can cause immediate effects on the mother and developing baby in the womb. Examples of these health effects include brain function impairment, cancer, growth retardation, and malformations.
Do In-Ear Monitors Emit Harmful Radio Waves?
So, what does this has to do with in-ear monitors?
To know the answer, it’s important to understand how in-ear monitors work [How Do In-Ear Monitors Work]. They operate using wireless technology, specifically through radio frequency (RF). From the sound engineer’s digital console for monitor mixing, an audio signal is sent to the transmitter before it reaches the belt pack receiver that a performer wears.
In-ear monitors, specifically the transmitters and receivers, commonly use VHF (“Very High Frequency”) and UHF (“Ultra High Frequency”) radio frequencies to send audio wirelessly. Both of these radio frequencies are a type of non-ionizing radiation, which, if present in intense levels, could result in tissue damage due to heat.
But can the non-ionizing radiation from in-ear monitors produce harmful effects to both the mother and baby in the womb? Not really.
In order for their in-ear monitors to be legal [Are In-Ear Monitors Legal] in the United States, manufacturers have to follow the latest regulations set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). That means licensed in-ears and other wireless devices can’t operate in the 600 MHz frequency band.
Now, in order to cause bad effects on pregnant women and unborn babies, in-ear monitors have to communicate using radiofrequency radiation in the frequency range of more than 300 GHz (300,000 MHz). The current radiofrequency range of most wireless in-ear monitors on the market is much weaker than the radiation present in x-rays, gamma rays, and the sun.
In short, the non-ionizing radiation coming from in-ear monitors aren’t harmful during pregnancy. And at the moment, there are no large-scale, peer-reviewed studies that prove these wireless audio devices have the potential to cause harmful health effects, specifically on unborn babies.
Are in-ear monitors safe during pregnancy? The answer is a resounding yes.
While they emit radiofrequency radiation, it’s not intense enough to penetrate deep into the womb and cause abnormalities to an unborn baby. Besides, all wireless in-ear monitors sold in the United States have to get the approval of the FCC to make sure they don’t exceed the recommended exposure limits.