Microwave Emissions: To Zap or Not to Zap

How safe are microwaves?

| September/October 2004

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Microwave ovens are certainly convenient and can also save energy, but are they safe? Microwave emissions: Safety standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration allow microwave emissions of up to 1 milliwatt per square centimeter (1mW/cm2) when the oven is purchased, and up to 5mW/cm2 after the oven has been in use. Studies on industrial microwave exposure recommend that daily exposure should not exceed 1mW for more than one minute, yet average home use of microwave ovens far exceeds this.

FOOD QUALITY: Researchers at the University of Minnesota reported that microwaves aren’t recommended for heating bottles for a baby, because there may be a loss of some vitamins in infant formulas, and protective properties may be destroyed. Swiss researchers found that microwave cooking changes food nutrients significantly. Blood samples taken immediately after subjects ate microwaved food revealed an increase in white blood cells—often a sign of poisoning.

If you use a microwave, observe the following safety tips:

• Stay far from the oven while it’s in operation.

• Make sure the oven door closes properly.

• Prevent damage to hinges, latches, sealing surfaces, and the door.

• Test your oven for leakage. Testers can be purchased online at Geostar.comMrMicrowave.com, and InspectorTools.com/micovtes.html.

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