How often do you use your microwave? In the hustle and bustle of your day-to-day life, would you deem that glowing little box an absolute necessity?
The use of microwaves used to be steeped in controversy– claims of radiation made people weary of the appliance. It seems in this modern day and age, however, that convenience outweighs potential dangers in today’s modern household.
So what are the dangers of using a microwave? Are they valid? Should we take these claims seriously or should we just get on with our busy lives, relying on our beloved objects of convenience?
How Do Microwaves Work?
Within the microwave, radio waves are produced which operates on a frequency referred to as microwaves. These waves cook the food by shaking up the molecules inside the food, causing quite a bit of friction.
This friction is what is responsible for heating up the food.
Claim: Microwaves emit dangerous levels of radiation.
The idea of radiation being leaked within your home, emitting dangerous rays at you and your family as it gleefully cooks your dinner seems pretty scary.
So, does your microwave emit dangerous levels of radiation? The short answer is: no. However, it is true that your microwave does emit radiation– just not the dangerous kind that you are imagining when you read the word “radiation.”
The Food and Drug Administration assures you that you have nothing to worry about as microwave emit low levels of radiation that are way below the line of danger.
If this is still a concern for you, FDA states that standing 20 inches away from the microwave dramatically decreases the levels of radiation you’re exposed to.
Another thing to consider is the modern design of today’s microwaves. Many microwaves were designed with this concern in mind as the doors of microwaves are built to prevent leakage of radiation from occurring.
Any microwave that goes on the market must meet the standards set by the FDA. These standards ensure that microwaves are built with two interlock systems that turn off the production of microwaves once the latches are unhooked.
This is apparent when you open the door of the microwave and it stops working and the light turns off.
Finally, the type of radiation emitted from microwaves is completely different from the type of radiation linked to such horrors as Chernobyl.
Microwaves use a non-ionizing type of radiation, meaning, it doesn’t fall under the umbrella of types of radiation responsible for increasing one’s risk of developing cancer.
The bottom line? While microwaves do emit some levels of radiation, they are miniscule levels and are heavily regulated by the USFDA.
The type of radiation used in microwaves is a non-ionizing type of radiation. This is one worry you can cross off your list.
Claim: Microwaves may cause cancer or infertility.
There have been studies claiming that microwaves cause cancer, however, these studies were flawed and subsequent research failed to replicate the results.
In fact, modern research has found that microwaves won’t pepper your food with carcinogens and aren’t likely to increase your chances of developing cancer.
Several studies have found that any links between cancer, infertility, and the development of tumors are weak.
If you’re still worried about the potential dangers associated with microwaves, follow the USFDA’s instructions while using a microwave, such as not standing directly next to the microwave while it’s in use and keeping 20 inches of distance.
Claim: Microwaves remove nutrients from your food.
This claim actually does hold some water because vegetables after they are zapped in the microwave do in fact lose nutrients, however, it should bare mentioning that all methods of cooking vegetables cause them to lose nutrients.
If you want to maintain the integrity of your vegetables, the best bet is to eat them raw or go with a gentler method of heating them, such as boiling or steaming.
Claim: Microwaves heat food unevenly.
There are some instances when you should avoid using microwaves. For example, it is not recommended to use a microwave to heat breast milk or formula for your baby. This is because while the bottle may feel cool while the interior the bottle may be too hot and can potentially hurt your baby.
Microwaves oftentimes unevenly heat up food because of the way they work. Microwaves heat up food by stirring up the molecules within the food causing friction and using the friction as a heat source.
While in some cases this can be potentially dangerous, in most cases it’s just kind of gross.
Claim: Reheating food in plastic containers may release dangerous chemicals.
This is true. However, the FDA ensures that these specific containers are marked as “not microwave safe.” Another way to ensure you’re not consuming harmful chemicals is to avoid reheating your food in unmarked containers from restaurants.
So Are Microwaves Dangerous?
Microwaves are dangerous in ways that anything can be dangerous in that if you don’t exercise common sense, yes, they can be harmful. However, for reasons of causing cancer or emitting dangerous waves the radiation, the links are weak at best.
The truth is, microwaves can be a perfectly safe and convenient way to heat up your food. The biggest health-risk associated with reheating food with microwaves is food that is contained within plastic. It is wise to only heat food in dishes that are marked safe by the FDA.
Those concerned about the loss of nutrients should consider eating fresh vegetables and eat meals that don’t require heating methods.