Convenience is everything when it comes to home assistants. Alexa can help you make a grocery list without ever lifting a pen. Order takeout. Play your favorite podcast while you cook dinner. Oh, and while you’re at it, make sure to always stay at least 8 inches away from your Amazon Echo if you want to avoid exposure to RF radiation (EMF).
Yes, even your favorite smart speaker is a source of radiation in your home. Whether you talk to Alexa, Siri, or Google, your home assistant device emits small amounts of radiation. But is that radiation harmful? Let’s take a look at everything we know about Amazon Echo and other smart speakers and whether or not they’re harmful to your health.
Radiation from Smart Speakers
Like most WiFi or cellular devices in your home, smart speakers emit certain amounts of radiation. There are several types of radiation that exists all around us. Ionizing radiation—which we encounter in X-rays, UV light, and atomic energy—is incredibly high frequency and has the ability to cause atoms to break apart. Non-ionizing radiation is low frequency and is emitted through things such as power lines, cell phones, microwaves, and WiFi.
Non-ionizing radiation is considered to be much less harmful to our health, but not entirely harmless. It can be even further divided into specific categories: Radio frequencies (RF) and extremely low frequencies (ELF) are what we most often encounter in and around our homes.
Smart speakers produce small amounts of both RF and ELF, but we’ll focus on the effects of RF radiation.
Alexa, How Much Is Too Much Radiation?
International regulations have been in place since 1996 in order to help countries navigate the effects of radiation on the population.
According to those standards, every device that emits RF radiation is tested before hitting the market. Cellular towers, cell phones, computers, and yes, your Amazon Echo, Google Home, other smart speaker all must be compliant with these limits.
For example, according to the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. government sets the specific absorption rate (SAR) of RF radiation exposure from cell phones at 1.6 watts per kilogram. Anything above that rate is considered unsafe.
Your smart speaker like Amazon Echo, HomePod, or Google Home emits below these amounts both when asleep and when awake. So does that make your home assistant safe to use?
There is a slight catch. The FCC regulations for RF radiation, while seemingly outdated, don’t take into account the nearness or age of the individual user. For example, cell phone radiation exposure is tested on adults with the phone held at least one inch away from the user’s ear.
Similarly, smart speakers are tested at a distance. In fact, Amazon Echo issues a notice in their safety and compliance fine print, stating, “This device should be installed and operated with a minimum distance of 20cm between the radiator and your body.”
Other home assistants issue similar statements, indicating that radiation exposure could be potentially harmful when you are 8 inches or closer to the device. Personally, if you don’t mind having Alexa radiation in your home, then I recommend being at least 3 feet away from the Amazon Echo.
So how much radiation is too much? According to regulations, 1.6 watts per kilogram. But a lot has changed since 1996, and that rule applies to individual devices. Today, our homes are filled with WiFi routers, cell phones, tablets, laptops, and our friendly Amazon Echo home assistant.
The combination of all these devices certainly gives reason for pause. While your smart speaker may not be a huge source of EMFs, it is worth reducing the potential risk in your home from any device that emits radiation.
How to Reduce Your Alexa Radiation Hazard
We mentioned earlier that studies done on the harmful effects of radiation don’t always account for proximity to the device, or age. How much radiation is too much for you or your family is dependent on the age of your household and how near each member is to specific sources of radiation.
With that in mind, the best way to reduce any harm from Amazon Echo radiation is to follow these simple suggestions.
Keep Your Smart Speaker Out of Reach of Your Children
Studies suggest that RF radiation, especially from cell phones, can have a far more damaging effect on children than adults. Young, developing bodies are susceptible to cell damage from radiation that can lead to tumors, heart issues and beyond.
This is also true when it comes to smart speakers. Children often love to handle their Amazon Dot or Echo, holding the device while speaking to it. This means they are exposed to more than the 8-inch, 1.6 W/kg regulated rates, which could cause more damage than we are yet aware of.
The safest option is to keep your Amazon Echo or similar device on a high shelf where it is out of reach of the most vulnerable members of your household.
Don’t Keep Your Smart Speaker on the Nightstand
Similarly, it makes sense to keep your smart speaker away from your head while you sleep. Placing Amazon Echo on a nightstand exposes you to RF radiation while you sleep, and puts the smart speaker unnecessarily close to your body.
Many families like to use smaller home speakers, like Amazon Dot, in their children’s rooms to play music while they sleep. If that is part of your routine, consider placing the device across the room from your child’s bed. The top of a high dresser or a bookshelf are both great options.
Use Amazon Echo in a Living Space
The best option to reduce radiation exposure while still using the convenience of a home assistant is to use the device in your living space. The living room, kitchen, or dining room are all great options to give you access to your assistant while you go about your day.
This also limits everyone’s exposure to RF radiation while they sleep, giving you peace of mind that no harm will come to your family from your home assistant.
Recapping Alexa Radiation
Radiation exposure from radio frequency (RF) and electromagnetic fields (EMF) is becoming a much more significant topic in recent years. As more studies are done to help us understand the conglomerate effect of radiation in our homes and bodies, we will likely see a trend in ways to reduce radiation in the home. Stay ahead of the game and take extra steps now to keep your home and family healthy and safe. Alexa’s Amazon Echo and other smart speakers are just one small source of radiation in your home. But with simple changes, they are one less source to worry about.