Many patients have questions about the dangers of microwave ovens, and are unaware of ways to prevent exposure to radiation. We take pride in educating our patients on these issues, and want to share information on how our patients can stay safe in their kitchens and homes.
It is important to note that microwave ovens are regulated by the FDA and those which meet their standards and are used according to the manufacturer’s instructions should be safe to use.
All FDA approved microwave ovens limit the amount of microwave radiation that can leak from the appliance throughout its lifetime. This limit is far below that which could be harmful to people.
Additionally, approved microwave ovens are required to have two independent interlock systems which prevent the production of microwaves as soon as the door latch is released or when the door is opened. There is an additional monitoring system that will also stop operation of the oven should one or both interlock systems fail. The FDA independently tests all microwave ovens for their safety standards and evaluates the radiation testing and quality control programs for each manufacturer.
That being said, there can be many variables that can make microwaves less safe or even hazardous when damaged or used incorrectly. If you are using an older microwave oven, you may want to consider purchasing a new one to ensure that all parts are in working order and meet safety standards.
Considerations When Purchasing a Microwave
When purchasing a new microwave, it is important to ensure that it contains a label certifying that the oven meets FDA safety standards. Be sure to read all instructions for operation and use, as many of the “hazards” of microwaves can actually be due to user error.
If your new microwave does not contain a label explaining precautions for use, it may be because the manufacturer has proven that the appliance will not exceed the limit for allowable microwave leakage (as determined by the FDA) even if the operator does not follow warnings listed on standard operating instructions. Be sure to do ample research on your microwave manufacturer and whether they meet FDA standards before purchasing.
Considerations When Operating a Microwave
As previously mentioned, microwave hazards can often be due to user error. The FDA encourages all microwave operators to take the following precautions to ensure optimal safety:
- Always read the manufacturer’s instructions for operating your microwave oven prior to use. Be sure to follow these instructions, procedures, and precautions as these may be specific to your model of microwave oven.
- Always use microwave safe cookware when operating your microwave oven. This label is often included on the bottom of dishes and containers. Many studies show that heating food or beverages in glass containers is safer than in plastic containers.
- If your microwave oven door is bent, warped, or damaged in any way, discard or replace the full appliance. This includes microwaves that do not have a door that firmly closes.
- If your microwave continues to operate when the door is open, discontinue use and discard or replace it.
- Microwave radiation increases the closer you are to the source, which in this case would be the microwave oven. Do not stand against the oven for extended periods of time while it is operating.
- Only heat liquids for the recommended amount of time as listed in the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Some models of microwave ovens should not operate while empty. Be sure to check the manufacturer instructions to determine if your model is safe for this method of use.
- Maintain your microwave oven by regularly cleaning the oven cavity, outer edge of the cavity, and door. Use water and a mild detergent and refrain from using scouring pads, steel wool, or abrasive cleaners.
- Most injuries resulting from microwave ovens are burns caused by removing items before they have cooled. Always allow food, liquids, or other heated substances to cool before removing them from the microwave oven. This is particularly important when heating water, as it can “superheat” past the boiling point and erupt out of the container when the water is disturbed. Waiting for the water to cool before moving or adding substances such as instant coffee prior to heating can greatly reduce the risk of superheating.
In the past concerns were raised about the safety of microwave ovens around patients with pacemakers. Modern pacemakers are designed to shield against electrical interference, so many of these concerns have been resolved. However, if you have a pacemaker and have additional questions or concerns, we urge you to consult your provider before using microwave ovens.
For more information about microwave oven safety, contact Transform Your Health, PLLC today.