Did you know...
...That microwaves could be dangerous. Now, I know that some of you reading this probably feel as if I've asked if you knew the sky was blue. But, I’ve actually found that many people are completely unaware of the potential negatives of using microwaves; both on how they affect the food we heat up and the potential effects they pose on our bodies, while in use, standing near them!
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, which is a form of radiation. Did you know that heating food in a microwave actually changes molecular makeup 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 in our bodies, right?! Radiation levels as low as 2 micro-watts per centimeter have been linked to cancer, and your microwave is emitting a lot more than that.
“So What Should I Do?!”
We’re not telling you this to scare you. As you know, here at Tech Wellness 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 the 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, and do the same yourself—simple as that :) If you want to understand exactly how much radiation your microwave is emitting, invest in any of the meters we offer on Tech Wellness. They provide accurate readings, are good quality, and worth it.
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 stovetop. It might take a few extra minutes, but most of the time I bet the improved taste and quality of the food alone makes 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 breastmilk in the microwave. Research shows that it increases bacteria and alters the proteins. Stick to the stove!
This concludes today’s PSA on microwave ovens! We hope you feel more equipped and empowered to make simple choices that will help you thrive. See below for links to some additional research, and as always, feel free to reach out with any thoughts, questions, or comments— we’d love to hear them.
Here's the research