What happens when you stand in front of a microwave oven?

by | Mar 21, 2020 | Science and Engineering

Ever wondered if it’s dangerous to stand in front of a microwave oven in operation? Microwave ovens involve a certain risk of catching the radiation; for instance, some people argue that standing in front of it while it is cooking food is dangerous because some of the microwaves leak through. However, no definite evidence exists. Microwave ovens constitute one of the most used kitchen appliances, but, do they come without harm? They emit rather low-frequency radiation that are less hazardous than higher frequency ones. However, they still exert a certain effect on us. The FDA has formulated a list of regulations that manufacturers have to follow so as to minimize whatever harmful effect that might exist.

What are microwaves?

Microwaves are short-wavelength electromagnetic radiation. The wavelengths vary from one millimeter to one meter.

Concerns about microwaves

It is often argued that even with the door of the appliance closed, the radiation reaches us. If the oven is not kept clean, the risk for this to happen is even greater. The door might be designed to keep the radiation inside (even the material lining the door is made such that the harmful waves are restricted to the inside of the appliance), but dirty ovens are more likely to leak out the microwaves. Those ovens with faulty doors should not be used.

How harmful are the microwaves?

During its early development, when the microwave oven was still being tested before being put on large-scale commercialization, researchers have had to bear the negative effects of testing the apparatus without doors, or with the doors open. They have experienced kidney damage as a result of not keeping the microwaves circulating in a closed environment.

Furthermore, the microwaves might also escape through small cracks and reach the person standing in front of the device while it is on. However, this has not been conclusively proved by experts.

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