A Moment of Science

Are Microwave Ovens Dangerous?

A Moment Of Science takes a scientific look at an old myth.

Close-up of a crackled DVD that's been in the microwave

Photo: Roj (flickr)

This is a close-up of a DVD that's been zapped by microwaves.

You may have heard rumors that microwaves can cause serious health problems if you stand directly in front of them. Some some of these rumored maladies include cataracts, immune problems and even sterility! Well, we’re here to tell you to breathe easy. As it turns out, there’s absolutely no scientific basis to any of these urban legends.

While the window of the microwave lets light through, it can’t let the microwaves out. Look closely at the glass window in the oven door: it’s covered by a metallic mesh screen. The metallic mesh keeps microwaves in but lets light out because microwaves are relatively huge compared to light waves.

One thing to keep in mind, though, is that microwave ovens have two safety latches on the door, and the oven shouldn’t work if even one latch is broken. But if the seal is very dirty or in poor repair, the oven could leak, which could be pretty bad indeed.

Read More:

  • Radiation Emitting Products (FDA)
  • VIDEO:What Happens When You Microwave Everything You Shouldn’t? (Discovery)

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