Effect of Bluetooth headset and mobile phone electromagnetic fields on the human auditory nerve

Laryngoscope. 2014 Jan;124(1):255-9. doi: 10.1002/lary.24103. Epub 2013 Apr 25.


Objectives/hypothesis: The possibility that long-term mobile phone use increases the incidence of astrocytoma, glioma and acoustic neuroma has been investigated in several studies. Recently, our group showed that direct exposure (in a surgical setting) to cell phone electromagnetic fields (EMFs) induces deterioration of auditory evoked cochlear nerve compound action potential (CNAP) in humans. To verify whether the use of Bluetooth devices reduces these effects, we conducted the present study with the same experimental protocol.

Study design: Randomized trial.

Methods: Twelve patients underwent retrosigmoid vestibular neurectomy to treat definite unilateral Ménière's disease while being monitored with acoustically evoked CNAPs to assess direct mobile phone exposure or alternatively the EMF effects of Bluetooth headsets.

Results: We found no short-term effects of Bluetooth EMFs on the auditory nervous structures, whereas direct mobile phone EMF exposure confirmed a significant decrease in CNAPs amplitude and an increase in latency in all subjects.

Conclusions: The outcomes of the present study show that, contrary to the finding that the latency and amplitude of CNAPs are very sensitive to EMFs produced by the tested mobile phone, the EMFs produced by a common Bluetooth device do not induce any significant change in cochlear nerve activity. The conditions of exposure, therefore, differ from those of everyday life, in which various biological tissues may reduce the EMF affecting the cochlear nerve. Nevertheless, these novel findings may have important safety implications.

Keywords: Bluetooth headset; cochlear nerve action potentials; electromagnetic field; intraoperative monitoring; mobile phones.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone*
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiopathology*
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged