Jul 03, 2017
by the editorial team and Sophia Ruan Gushée
As someone who has become sensitive to electromagnetic fields (EMFs), I have often wondered about the safety of microwave ovens. Are they safe: not only in terms of the radiation they emit, but also in terms of what they may do to the food that they cook?
Microwave radiation is a class of radio waves that have frequencies ranging from 3000 waves per second (3 kHz) to 300 billion waves per second (300 GHz). These high level radio frequencies (RF) can damage our DNA and potentially cause cancer.
The NASA video below explains microwave radiation.
Microwave ovens are not the only source of microwave radiation. Other sources include cell phones, TV, radio, WiFi, and bluetooth. These devices emit very low levels of microwave radiation and there is no immediate concern.
However, long term, chronic exposures to these sources is not well studied. After all, our average daily exposures are unprecedented. For example, the iPhone was just released in 2007. Since then, there's been a boom in smart, wireless products. So, we simply have not had enough time and data to study the potential threats to our health from our current EMF circumstances.
Becoming aware of what we do know is an important first step. In this article, we focus on common appliances that emit microwave radiation. From there, you're better positioned to reduce your exposures and maybe decrease your risk of developing suspected health effects.
Learn more about devices that emit radiation here: EMF Danger Levels of Home Appliances.
While I don't think we've had enough time and data to understand the long-term effects of an average person's exposure to microwave radiation, below are examples of a few studies that suggest precautionary measures.
Some of the most credible organizations including the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, World Health Organization and the FDA agree that microwave ovens do not pose a risk to our health when used properly. And a minority of experts warn that microwave ovens are not safe.
One important thing you should do is assess whether your microwave meets the most recent regulations, and that you’re using it properly.
The most common misuse of microwave ovens is because they are somehow damaged or otherwise faulty.
This may include:
Radiation injuries can happen from radiation leaking through gaps in microwave oven seals. If you notice any of the above, stop using the microwave immediately.
Again, there is debate on whether microwaving food deteriorates its quality. While there's no consensus, most seem to believe that microwaving food does not significantly decrease nutritional value more than other forms of cooking. A minority claim that it denatures proteins, like in breast milk (it's recommended that you NOT use the microwave for breast milk). One thing I know is that microwaving plastics and other packaging materials can contaminate your food with toxic chemicals. For example, hormone disruptors (like BPA and phthalates) can be released from food packaging, when heated, into your food.
The general consensus is that microwave ovens are safe when used properly. The jury is still out on our everyday sources of microwave radiation. Regardless, my instincts lead me to avoid microwaving food whenever possible, and to reduce any unnecessary microwave radiation.
To learn more check out our related articles:
Access Sophia's shopping list for her household staples. They're her favorite low toxic items that she can't live without. Also see which EMF protection products she uses.