Could everyone please just step away from the microwave?
Did you know that microwave ovens can be dangerous?
Now, I know that some of you reading this probably feel like I might as well have asked if you know that the sky is blue. But I’ve actually found that many people are completely unaware of the potential negatives of using microwaves— of both the effects that they have on the food that we put inside of them, and the potential effects they can have on our bodies when we stand near them when they’re in use.
Reheating with Radiation
Since microwave use is so widespread in America and they can feel so convenient, it’s possible to just pop a plate in there and come back to hot food without ever really thinking much about how exactly that stuff is getting cooked, and why we might want to be careful. Microwaves make things hot using electromagnetic energy— basically, a form of radiation. Did you know that heating food in a microwave actually changes molecular make up of that food? Here’s Larry Gust, a building biology expert, explaining how they work:
“Microwave ovens use electromagnetic energy that vibrates 2.4 billion times per second. This energy acts on the molecules in food, particularly water molecules causing them to rapidly vibrate. This rapid movement generates friction, thus heat. Vibration is so violent that molecules are often torn apart or distorted, thereby changing the chemical makeup of the food. Additionally, this appliance leaks microwaves into the environment around it.”
Pretty wild stuff! And did you catch that last part? That electromagnetic energy that’s cooking our food doesn’t stay contained in the microwave. As you can see in the video above, there’s significant radiation leaking out of a running microwave oven “even with” a shield designed to block it. Eeek! I think most of us would prefer not to have that kind of radiation near our bodies, right?!
Consistent exposure to Radio-frequency (RF) non-ionizing radiation levels as low as .2 Microwatts/cm² (μW/cm²) from Radio, TV and Cell Towers have been linked to leukemia and your microwave is emitting a lot more non-ionizing radiation than that. Albeit of course, the exposure is not consistent – I get that, but the point is, the levels coming from a leaky microwave oven can be much much greater.
I’m not telling you this to scare you. As you may know, at Safertech, where we talk about “safer living in a wireless world” we aren’t about doom and gloom— we’re not just trying to create awareness about something can’t do anything about. We’re about simple, practical solutions to minimize hazards and create a fear-free environment that your body can thrive in!
Due to my personal research and experiences, I’ve opted to take the microwaves out of my home and our office. But that doesn’t have to be your choice. Here are some tips to keep in mind if giving up microwaving cold turkey (ha!) isn’t for you:
STEP AWAY! Never stand in front of microwave when it’s running, and especially don’t let kids do it! We know, there’s a strange temptation to put your face up against the door and watch the food turn— but that’s where the most radiation is, and kids are the most vulnerable!. Teach them to always step back, (a minimum of 10′)and do the same yourself— simple as that 🙂
GO THE DISTANCE. This is both the easiest and most effective method to protect yourself from unwanted radiation. Our measurements show that the energy dissipates with distance, so put some between yourself and a running microwave— I like to stand 10-15 feet away to be safe. Limit your exposure by walking away.
GET CLASSIC. When possible, consider other methods for reheating, such as the conventional oven or stove top. It might take a few extra minutes, but most of the time I bet the improved taste and quality of the food alone make it worth it!
…BUT NOT OLD. Beware of older microwaves: as time passes, the seal on the door wears out, not only decreasing their effectiveness, but increasing the amount of radiation that flows through.
*A special note to new parents: please don’t heat breast milk in the microwave.
Research shows that it increases bacteria and alters the proteins. The CDC recommends thawing frozen milk in the fridge or swirling it around in a bowl of warm water.
And this concludes today’s PSA on microwave ovens. I hope you feel more equipped and empowered to make simple choices that will help you thrive. See below for links on some additional research, and as always, feel free to reach out with any thoughts, questions, or comments— love to hear them.
August + The SafterTech Team