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Sunday, March 8, 2015

How Safe Are Microwave Ovens?

How Safe Are Microwave Ovens?
When microwave ovens were first introduced, many people wondered if they were really safe. That same concern haunts many today, too. There have been rumors that the radiation is dangerous and if you have a pacemaker, standing too close to a microwave could interfere with the pacemaker's function. Are all these real concerns, and do they apply today?

The facts about microwaves

First of all, it is important to understand how a microwave operates. Microwaves use electromagnetic energy causing the water molecules in food to rotate and quickly heat up. Is this microwave radiation safe? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is. The FDA has an electronic product radiation control program that assures that radiation emissions do not pose a hazard to public health. The FDA safety standard, or the amount of microwaves that can leak from a microwave oven throughout its lifetime, is 5 milliwatts (mW) of microwave radiation per square centimeter at approximately 2 inches from the oven surface. According to the FDA, this limit is far below the level that could actually harm.

What about the danger to pacemakers?

Early pacemakers raised concerns about their danger when coming into close proximity with microwaves. But pacemakers today are designed to provide protection by shielding the pacemaker from interference from electricity. However, it should be noted that the FDA does not have any specific regulations for microwaves to publish warnings for people with pacemakers. So, people with pacemakers should consult with their physicians on this matter to alleviate any concerns.

It should also be noted that larger, commercial microwave ovens used in restaurants are more powerful. Patients with pacemakers should consult their physician if they are required to use a commercial grade microwave in the workplace.

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