Fitness Trackers: Smart or Distracting and Dangerous?
While many are rushing out to buy the latest upgrade of fitness trackers and “smart” watches, others are retiring them. Providing far more information than just the time, people are finding this technology is distracting, pulling them into a virtually connected world and disconnecting them from the real physical world. There are also real health and security concerns with their use. While there are no scientific studies specifically on extremity wearable wireless devices and links to cancer or other adverse health effects, this technology does operate with wireless frequencies commonly used with bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G and 4G signals, demonstrated to be bioactive. Many people in the FitBit Community are reporting dizziness, headaches and nausea when wearing the device. There is abundant research confirming that real risks do exists, including an increasingly recognized condition called electrosensitivity, with similar non-specific symptoms with exposure to wireless devices. Recent and historic scientific research confirms biologic harm from non-ionizing radiation from wireless devices, especially with long term use, thus precaution is indicated. See 2018 NTP Study and the MDSafeTech Scientific Literature section. https://mdsafetech.org
Fitbit Recalled Due to Health Complaints
About 10,000 Fitbit Force users complained to the Consumer Product Safety Commission about wrist rashes, blisters and burning sensations thus promoting a recall of all the Fitbit Force devices according to a CNN report. The company has attributed this to a nickel or other chemical allergic reaction. These trackers are used to improve health .
Wi Fi Radiation from Fit Bits and other Wearable Fitness Devices
While we are aware of the strengthening evidence of the association of cell phone use and brain cancer, few have made the connection between wearable fitness trackers and potential complications from the wireless radiation emitted. These devices are given to kids to monitor sleep and physical fitness.
Security and Privacy of Fitness Trackers: Military Concerned
Security of wearable devices is a legitimate concern. Technology engineers have warned that they are easily hacked compromising health data and identity. The GPS tracking company Strava, uses satellite information to map the locations and travels of subscribers to the company’s fitness service, including those wearing Fitbit. These have been put on an interactive map. US Servicemen who wore Fitbits with the mobile app were able to be tracked on base. The U.S. Military revised its rules after sensitive data was revealed.
There are also emerging privacy and security issues. If you have wearable devices, there are ways reduce exposure by turning the wireless connection off if not needed, avoid wearing the device at night or for long periods and downloading your information infrequently.
Wireless Eyewear: Fatal Collision?
A new 2018 paper, Fatal Collision: Are Wireless Headsets a Risk in Treating Patients?, highlights the potential bodily harm from wearing wireless headsets, augmented reality systems and glass-type eyewear. Physicians and other health care workers are also using wireless RF devices, similar to cell phones, around their necks for rapid communication. Specific research has not been done on these devices as they are within the FCC guidelines, however all of the research on long and short term non-thermal biological effects at exposures within or below the guidelines would apply. Brain cancer, neurologic harm (memory, learning, behavior), eye pathology, reproductive damage and electrosensitivity are included as associated risks found in research. See Also MDSafetech- Eye Effects- Scientific Literature
Baby Wearable Monitors
The market for wearable wireless devices has never been better. An untapped but rising opportunity targets babies. Smart pacifiers, biometric- tracking onesies, teethers with cell phones and Wi Fi enabled cribs to sooth and rock your baby to sleep, are all aimed for convenience. Apps can even be built in to remind parents to feed the child on a regular schedule. “Smart” baby cribs are designed to give parents more sleep at night, but are they harmful to the developing brain? Research indicates that precaution is needed with the use of these devices. Studies suggests that if the parents removed their smart meters, put their cell phones on airplane mode and turned off the Wi Fi router at night everyone would enjoy a better sleep.
News Articles on Wearable Devices
- U.S. soldiers are revealing sensitive and dangerous information by jogging. January 29, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/a-map-showing-the-users-of-fitness-devices-lets-the-world-see-where-us-soldiers-are-and-what-they-are-doing/2018/01/28/86915662-0441-11e8-aa61-f3391373867e_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.6ea4bf4aaeb0
- Fit Bit Community. Headache and Sever Dizziness from Charge 2 FitBit. https://community.fitbit.com/t5/Charge-2/Headache-and-severe-dizziness-Charge-2/td-p/1648794
- There are health-tracking wearables for babies, too. Nov 2017. Jacqueline Howard. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2017/11/06/health/baby-technology-products-teching/index.html
- 10 things you need to know about the security risks of wearables. James Martin. CIO. March 28, 2017.
- Can Fitness Trackers Cause Cancer? Berkeley Wellness Newsletter. Sept 8, 2017. http://www.berkeleywellness.com/self-care/over-counter-products/article/can-fitness-trackers-cause-cancer
- Why I stopped wearing a smartwatch. JR Raphael. Dec 6, 2016. Computerworld. https://www.computerworld.com/article/3147429/wearables/why-i-stopped-wearing-a-smartwatch.html
- The Health Concerns in Wearable Tech. NYT. March 18, 2015.
- Experts: Why wearable tech could pose health risks. October 20, 2014. http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2014/10/20/experts-why-wearable-tech-could-pose-health-risks.html
Fitbit Radiation Measurements
The radiation was measured from a Fitbit Tracker. Although this is not a certified reading it does give some idea of the amount of radiation emitted, indicating concern for long term use.