Static magnetic fields from earphones: Detailed measurements plus some open questions

August 6, 2022


Earphones (EP) are a worldwide, massively adopted product, assumed to be innocuous provided the recommendations on sound doses limits are followed. Nevertheless, sound is not the only physical stimulus that derives from EP use, since they include a built-in permanent magnet from which a static magnetic field (SMF) originates. We performed 2D maps of the SMF at several distances from 6 models of in-ear EP, showing that they produce an exposure that spans from ca. 20 mT on their surface down to tens of μT in the inner ear. The numerous reports of bioeffects elicited by SMF in that range of intensities (applied both acutely and chronically), together with the fact that there is no scientific consensus over the possible mechanisms of interaction with living tissues, suggest that caution could be recommendable. In addition, more research is warranted on the possible effects of the combination of SMF with extremely low frequency and radiofrequency fields, which has so far been scarcely studied. Overall, while several open questions about bioeffects of SMF remain to be addressed by the scientific community, we find sensible to suggest that the use of air-tube earphones is probably the more conservative, cautious choice.

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