Smart home and virtual assistant devices like the Amazon Echo are becoming a staple in the modern home. We aren’t here to question the convenience of these devices, instead, we’re going to look at the radiation they emit, and whether or not that radiation is dangerous.
Amazon Echo (sometimes just referred to as Alexa) and other devices like the Google Home and Apple Homepod allow you to wirelessly control devices in your home using just your voice. On top of that, they tell you the weather, answer questions, play your favorite songs and so much more.
So, let’s answer the question you came here for.
Does the Amazon Echo emit EMF radiation? Yes, the Amazon Echo and other smart assistant devices like the Google Home and Apple Airpod do emit some radiation. Their wireless connectivity causes them to emit RF radiation whenever they are sending or receiving data. In addition, the electrical components inside cause them to emit small amounts of electrical field and magnetic field radiation.
Now let’s take some time to break this down, talk about how and when Amazon echo emits EMF radiation, and how we can protect ourselves from it.
How Does The Amazon Echo (Alexa) Emit Radiation?
Electromagnetic field, or EMF Radiation, is the type of radiation we’re talking about here, and it consists of three types:
- Magnetic Field
- Electric Field
- Radio Frequency
Magnetic and electric field are both emitted from electronics and charged wiring, but usually in small amounts depending on the product. For example, your Macbook pro when operating will emit a fairly large amount of magnetic radiation, however, your sound machine will only emit a very small amount.
When it comes to the Amazon Echo, the magnetic and electric field radiation is quite small, and unless the device is right next to your body, is not likely to be an issue.
When it comes to Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple Homepod, and similar devices, the real concern is the radiofrequency radiation (sometimes referred to as microwave radiation). This is the same type of radiation that your cell-phone emits and countless studies have examined the long-term health effects.
We’ll get to those in a minute, first, let’s look at how this radiation happens.
Whenever devices communicate wirelessly, they use radio waves to send packets of data back and forth. Sometimes this is a protocol like Bluetooth, and sometimes it is just using common radio frequencies like 2.4 and 5 GHz, which is what your WiFi router uses.
One result of this radio wave data transfer is that it emits RF, or radiofrequency, radiation into the area around the device.
Why Is Radiation From Amazon Echo (Alexa) Dangerous?
Now it’s time to get to why this is actually an issue, starting with protective regulations.
You see, in most countries, like the United States, devices that emit radiofrequency radiation are subject to protective regulations. For cell-phones, this is something called specific absorption rate, or SAR. SAR is the amount of radiation a person absorbs from a cell-phone and is limited to 1.6 w/Kg. That means you cannot sell a cell-phone in the US that gives off more radiation than that.
Now, many people myself included believe that is not an adequate limit, and it should be much less, but I won’t go into that in this article.
The takeaway is, even the government recognizes that too much RF radiation is dangerous for the body, and sets limits.
Now, when it comes to smart home assistants like the Amazon Echo or any others, they are compliance tested with a separation of 8 inches between your body and the device. The issue is, many children (who are more vulnerable to RF radiation) will hold these devices to sing along to a song, or ask them questions.
This has prompted many health organizations to issue an alert asking children to maintain distance.
Devra Davis, founder of the Environmental Health Trust, a leading think-tank on the topic had this to say:
“If a person or child is closer than 8 inches to the virtual assistant, they are absorbing levels of this radiation that greatly exceed government guidelines”
Now, the manufacturers do state that you should maintain a distance of at least 20 cm, which is about 8 inches.
For example, the Amazon Echo manual states:
“…This device should be installed and operated with a minimum distance of 20cm between the radiator and your body. The remote control meets the RF exposure requirement of low power devices under portable operation. Nevertheless, it is advised to use the Products in such a manner that minimizes the potential for human contact during normal operation.”
The manual for the Google Home reads:
“To satisfy FCC exposure requirements, a separation distance of at least 20 cm should be maintained between the antenna of this device and persons during device operation. Operations at closer than this distance are not recommended.”
This should tell you that the manufacturers also agree that using the devices too close to the body could be harmful.
In a statement, Theodora Scarato, who is the executive director of the Environmental Health Trust and a leader in the field of EMF radiation protection said this:
“Children love gathering around these devices completely unaware that it is exposing them to radiofrequency radiation. Most children will be hovering over the device placing their head much closer than the 20 cm (about 8 inch) distance stated in the manual. Parents have a right to know about these radiation exposures and they have a right to know that close proximity to these devices poses risks to their child’s health and safety.”
Dr. Marc Zrazi, who became famous after pressuring the Frech government to investigate cell-phone radiation tests and limits had this to say on the issue:
“What are the radiation exposures for virtual assistants at 5 inches away, the typical distance a child will be from this device? Manufacturers only test them at 8 inches distance. Just like cell phones, manufacturers do not test these virtual assistants close to the body. If cell phones are exceeding radiation limits, then what about all of these other devices? It is an international scandal that cell phones and wireless devices are not tested for compliance at body contact.”
Now that we’ve talked about whether Amazon Echo and other smart assistant devices emit radiation, why and how that radiation is emitted, let’s talk briefly about why it’s dangerous to the body.
Is RF Radiation Harmful?
I’m only going to cover the surface answer to this question for a couple of reasons:
- I’ve covered it extensively in other articles.
- I don’t want to distract too much from this article or from preventative steps, which we’ll cover next.
Radio Frequency, or RF, radiation emitted from devices like the Amazon Echo, has been linked to harmful health effects. What we’re learning is that the danger is cumulative, meaning that it is more important to make small changes that reduce your continuous exposure.
Now, I will say early on, that of the exposure in your life, an Amazon Echo, Google Home, or Apple Homepod should not be high on your list of concerns.
They do emit radiation, and if you were to sit very closely to it you are likely exposing yourself to too much radiation.
More importantly, if you’re kids hold these devices while using them, that is likely dangerous and you should try to prevent it.
Now, let’s look at a few of the studies confirming that RF radiation exposure is harmful.
The Bioinitiative Report – This is a study that you’ll see referenced often. It’s actually less of a study, and more a review of the studies, research, public policy and global response to the topic of EMF radiation dangers. The authors include 21 PhDs, scientists, even former presidents of the Bioelectromagnetics Society.
The study examined: “…brain tumor risks from cell phones, damage to DNA and genes, effects on memory, learning, behavior, attention; sleep disruption and cancer and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease. Effects on sperm and miscarriage (fertility and reproduction), the effects of wireless on the brain development of the fetus and infant, and the effects of wireless classrooms on children and adolescents are addressed.”
The Interphone Study – This study, published in 2010, is still considered one of the most complete and comprehensive looks at the danger RF radiation poses to the human body.
Some of the findings included:
- If you use your cell phone for as little as 30 minutes a day, after 10 years you will have a 40% increased risk of developing a brain tumor.
- That you are considered “high risk” if you’ve used your phone 1640 hours in your lifetime. This “high-risk group” is 2 times more likely to develop a brain tumor in the temporal lobe. When holding your cell-phone close to your head, the temporal lobe is the area of the brain closest to the antenna.
- When brain tumors were found in the test group, they were twice as likely to be found on the side of the head where the cell phone was used.
Even the California Department of Health issued warnings and public advice on how to reduce your exposure to RF radiation.
Now that we’ve talked extensively about why it could be dangerous, let’s talk about some simple ways we can protect ourselves.
5 Simple Ways To Protect Against Amazon Echo Radiation
I’ve talked about ways to reduce your exposure to EMF radiation in many articles on EMF Academy, so I’m going to limit the scope of this to just ways to reduce your exposure to devices like the Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple Homepod and other smart devices.
If you want to learn more general protection tips, check out the Knowledge section of EMF Academy, or use the search feature.
1. Distance Is Your Friend
There is a reason that we talked in this article so much about the distance at which regulatory tests were done and the distance from the devices that manufacturers suggest.
The truth is that distance is your absolute best friend when it comes to any type of EMF radiation.
This is due to the inverse square law of physics that I reference all the time. Essentially what this law tells us, is that as we double or distance from a source of radiation, in this case, an Amazon Echo or similar device, we quarter our exposure. This means that any amount of distance gives us exponential levels of protection.
So, if your Amazon Alexa device is on a shelf at least a few feet away from you, your exposure to it is hardly anything at all, and you probably don’t really need to worry about it.
However, if you have a smart assistant device that you, or your kids, regularly hold while using it, then this is probably something to be concerned about.
So, this step is easy, just make smart decisions, and try to keep the device at least a few feet away at all times. Don’t have it on your nightstand right next to your head, don’t have it on a side table right next to your body while you’re watching tv, don’t strap it to your chest and wear it around like Iron Man, etc.
2. Reduce WiFi Radiation
Although like we talked about above, these smart home devices do emit a small amount of electric and magnetic field radiation, the primary concern is the RF radiation. That RF radiation comes from the device, but it also comes from your WiFi router giving internet access to the device.
If you reduce your exposure to WiFi radiation, you’ll be protecting yourself from the WiFi, and from the Amazon Echo.
I actually just wrote up an enormous guide on this topic just a few weeks ago, so I don’t need to go over it here. If you want to reduce your exposure to WiFi radiation, and in turn, from your Amazon Alexa devices, then check out that guide or another good one on the internet.
I’ll just quickly give you a couple of easy tips though!
- Turn your WiFi off at night. This is actually so easy to do, and I have a step-by-step guide you can follow to do this automatically. Believe it or not, but sleep is actually pretty important. RF radiation actually inhibits our bodies ability to get good sleep. So, simply turning your WiFi off at night will not only protect your body in the long-run but will also help you sleep better, awesome right?
- Get A WiFi Router Guard – This is a super simple product, that will go a long way at protecting you, it also pairs up really well with smart-home devices like the Amazon Echo. Essentially, it’s a small Faraday cage that you place your router inside. It will reduce the radiation emitted by around 90% without affecting the speeds! It does reduce the range of the router a little bit, but this isn’t an issue for most homes. If you want to learn more about them you can check out my article.
1. Get An EMF Meter
You may think this isn’t specifically relevant to smart assistant devices, but hear me out.
I recommend getting an EMF meter is so many of my articles, and I think it’s for a good reason. For example, let’s say that you don’t believe me or any other experts on the topic, and you don’t think your Amazon Echo emits RF radiation.
Well, pick up a quality EMF meter, turn it to the RF reading, and test it for yourself! You’ll instantly know just how much radiation it’s emitting.
The great thing about this is that you can test the device at various distances to know what’s a safe distance for your home. If you’re curious what a high or low reading is, check out this guide.
This isn’t only helpful for this situation though. You can use an EMF meter to measure radiation concerns all throughout your house and office. Better yet, you can know that if you implement any protective measures, or purchase any protective products, whether they actually made a difference.
My favorite meter by far is the Trifield TF2, but there are many good ones on the market. Just be sure you get one that measures RF radiation if you’re going to be testing your Amazon Echo device.
Now that we’ve talked about how to protect yourself from RF radiation from devices like the Amazon Echo, let’s cover a few related questions.
If I didn’t answer your questions in this article, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Does The Google Home Give Off Radiation?
Yes, just like the Amazon Echo, the Google Home devices emit a small amount of magnetic radiation, as well as a fair amount of radiofrequency radiation. The radiofrequency radiation comes from wireless connectivity and data transfer.
Due to the radiation emitted, the Google Home manual suggests keeping the device at least 20 centimeters away from your body at any given time. You can reduce your radiation exposure to the Google Home by following the steps in this guide.
Does Alexa Emit Radiation?
I wanted to put this in here because not everyone realizes that “Alexa” is actually just the voice assistant on Amazon Echo devices. So, when you ask the question, does “Alexa” emit radiation, you’re really asking if these smart speakers give off radiation, and the answer is yes.
Alexa, or Amazon Echo devices, give off a small amount of magnetic field radiation, and a reasonable amount of RF radiation.
Do Smart Homes Emit Radiation?
This is a question I could, and probably should dedicate an entire article too, but the short answer is yes, absolutely they emit radiation. The wireless connectivity required to maintain most smart homes emits a large amount of RF radiation.
The more wirelessly connected devices you have such as lights, speakers, garage doors, cameras, etc. the more electrosmog you should expect to be exposed to.
You can somewhat reduce this risk by hardwiring any devices that you reasonably can.
Can You Connect Amazon Echo Devices To Ethernet?
To my knowledge, there is no way to connect these devices to an ethernet cable. This would be a fantastic thing to include in future iterations of the device, and many people on Amazon forums have asked for this.
If you were able to connect your Echo device to an ethernet cable, you would largely reduce the radiation it emits. I’ve seen some websites suggest that you can connect it via the USB port on the back by using an adapter. However, the Amazon Echo, to my knowledge, will just reject this connection and stick with WiFi instead.
If this changes in the future, I’ll update this section to include instructions on how you can hardwire your Amazon Echo or Google Home.
I wanted to take a minute and give some final thoughts on this topic. First, whenever I set out to write an article, I always research the topic extremely thoroughly and try to include the thoughts and experiences of other experts.
What this tends to do I think is making the topic bigger then it might be for the average consumer because let’s face it, you don’t likely care that much about FCC regulations, SAR limits, studies, or expert testimony (if you do, welcome to the club). Instead, you probably just want to know if something is safe for you or your family.
So, I’ll just say that I don’t think an Amazon Echo or Google Home is “dangerous.” However, I do think it adds to the overall RF pollution in your home, and if there are simple steps you can take to reduce your exposure, I think those are worth doing.
I think do your best to keep it out of your kid’s literal hands, keep it away from your living spaces, and you’re probably just fine.
If you have any questions or need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out and I’ll do my best to help.