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Why do people worry so much about microwave radiation?

  1. Sep 30, 2015 #1
    Why do people worry so much about microwave radiation if it has less energy than infrared (heat) radiation? Why do they worry about STANDING near microwaves versus standing near heat sources? Why do they worry about using it to heat up their food if it's lower in energy than infrared?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 30, 2015 #2


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    Because microwave radiation is more penetrating than infrared. Too much microwave radiation can cook your brain inside your skull, to cite an unlikely, though theoretically possible, scenario.


    Microwave radiation can also interfere with medical devices, like pacemakers, which some people depend on to keep them alive.
  4. Sep 30, 2015 #3


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    Ovens cook stuff, ergo microwaves could cook you.
  5. Sep 30, 2015 #4


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    People also worry about EM radiation from power lines, about the possibility of catastrophic black holes at the LHC, about any level of radiation, etc... etc. You are asking why some people are irrational. Is there really an answer for such a thing?

  6. Sep 30, 2015 #5
    I don't think most people really worry too much about microwaves cooking their food. I don't know a lot about the subject but it seems to me like most of the 'harmful effects' are based on pseudoscience.

    As mentioned above though that doesn't mean microwaves aren't dangerous...I wouldn't regularly stick my head right next to one when it was running for instance.
  7. Sep 30, 2015 #6


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    If the media were rational about this sort of thing then they could not entertain their audience. No one ever wants to do the sums before panicking about something.
  8. Sep 30, 2015 #7
    Which is why microwaves have special doors to prevent any damage to curious people that want to keep an eye on their food while it is being heated. Fun anecdote: A friend of mine had a broken microwave that didn't switch off when the door was being opened, and after he stuck his hand inside, he had to go to the hospital to have it treated. He said that his hand looked really weird and that microwave burns were quite rare, so several people were called in to have a look at it (an educational moment for everyone). However, he didn't really describe his condition as serious and as far as I could tell it didn't cause any permanent damage.
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