Misconception: Microwave Radiation Can Harm Fertility
Go ahead and make that popcorn. “Microwave radiation is not the same as harmful, cancer-causing radiation,” explains University of Toronto physicist Jason Harlow, Ph.D.
Rather than falling at the high-energy end of the electromagnetic radiation band (where you’ll find X-rays, for example), microwaves are found on the low-energy radio frequency band (in the same neighborhood as radio signals). And the radiation is almost entirely confined to the oven. Federal standards require microwave ovens to have two independent interlocking systems that halt microwave production the moment the door latch is released or the door is opened, and a monitoring system that turns off the oven in case one or both of the interlocking systems fail. There are also federal standards for how much radiation leakage is acceptable, and the limits are far below the exposure level that’s considered a health risk.
One thing you can do to ensure safety is not use a microwave oven if the door doesn’t close firmly, or is bent, warped, or otherwise damaged. This can particularly happen with older ovens, even when they seem to be working properly. You can have a service technician check the radiation leakage if you’re concerned. Or, of course, you can just replace the oven.
Microwave energy decreases dramatically as you move away from the source of radiation. A measurement taken 20 inches away from a microwave oven is approximately one-hundredth the strength of a measurement taken 2 inches away. But even if you like to stand close to your microwave while your food is cooking, you won’t be exposed to a harmful dose of radiation.
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