You've heard the rumors: standing near a microwave and absorbing the radiation it emits can cause serious damage to your health. But is this true? A common household appliance that many use daily is seriously dangerous? We did a little digging.
According the the Food and Drug Administration—who has regulated microwave oven manufacturing since 1971—microwave ovens are a safe and effective way to heat food and unless you're exposed to high levels of microwaves (think: way more than the amount emitted by your microwave oven), negative effects on the human body have not been confirmed. In fact, the FDA reports that there have been no known radiation injuries linked to microwave oven use. "There have been allegations of radiation injury from microwave ovens, but none as a direct result of microwave exposure," their website reads. "The injuries known to the FDA have been injuries that could have happened with any oven or cooking surface. For example, many people have been burned by the hot food, splattering grease, or steam from food cooked in a microwave oven."
Additionally, The New York Times did some digging of their own and found that standing in close proximity to your microwave is harmless. "Every microwave that reaches the market must meet a requirement limiting the amount of radiation it can leak in its lifetime to five milliwatts per square centimeter at roughly two inches away from the oven," their article describes. "According to the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, that is far below the levels of radiation that have been shown to harm humans."
Though further long-term testing will be needed to fully determine if there are gradual effects of radiation exposure from microwave oven use, as long as your microwave's door closes tightly and the latch is secure, there's no reason to believe that standing next to your machine and eagerly awaiting your popcorn to be ready is hazardous to your health.
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