Is Standing In Front of a Microwave Really Dangerous?

Have your parents ever warned you, "Don't stand too close to the microwave"? Mine certainly have, but I was never sure why. Let me start this post by saying, those of you who do stand in front of the microwave, have no fear- you'll live. 

What makes microwaves a potential danger is that they emit radiation. I suppose that people who warn you to stay far away from them are afraid of getting radiation poisoning- a sickness that is a result of being over exposed to radiation waves. Some of the symptoms include, nausea, vomiting, hair loss, diarrhea, and weakness of the body. However, what these people fail to understand is that the amount of radiation you are exposed to standing in front of a microwave is far below any level that is harmful to humans. 

In this article published in the New York Times, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that it regulates microwave safety and requires that any microwave that is made, release a maximum of only five milliwatts per square centimeter over its entire lifetime. In comparison to how much radiation cell phones leak (1.6 watts over a lifetime), microwaves have been proven extremely safe. Additionally, you would only be exposed to the five milliwatts if you stood less than 2 inches away from the microwave door every single time you microwaved anything. I assume those chances are pretty low for anyone. 

You may be thinking, "how is it possible for microwaves to keep in all that radiation"? Well, this is because all microwave doors are lined with metal mesh that prevents these dangerous waves from escaping. Also, all microwaves are equipped with latches that immediately stop the flow of micro and radiation waves when you open the door. 

Based on my findings from the FDA and Mayo Clinic, I would say it's safe to stand in front of the microwave next time you re-heat your favorite snack!


Hey,your blog is interesting. My parents also always told me that stand in front of the microwave is dangerous.....I never think about if it is ture..However,your article told me that "it's safe to stand in front of the microwave next time you re-heat your favorite snack!"..Due to your findings,this conclusion is convincing. While,I want to add something. Although,there have been no studies that link microwaves to problems with pregnancy or birth defects of any kind. That being said, many doctors still tend to recommend that pregnant women do not stand directly in front of a microwave when cooking items. Dr. Patricia Kho of Baby Center says that a pregnant woman should avoid standing in front of the microwave or using a microwave with a faulty door lto avoid increased exposure to microwave radiation.

More info:

This post made me think about other possible harmful effects of microwaves, such as plastic containers releasing toxins into the food that is being microwaved. There is an on going concern that certain plastic food containers may leak chemicals into the foods, and that these may cause cancer, reproductive issues, and other undesirable effects.

There is an uncertainty for some plastics such as take out containers, margarine or cream cheese containers, and water balls, as they are not labeled microwave safe. It's important to note that this doesn't make them unsafe, it just means the FDA hasn't tested them. All we need to do as consumers is pay attention to a label, and we should be fine.
there are a few more quick precautions one may choose to take on this sight :

I once had a microwave that would continue running even if the door was open... Is this bad? I found myself several times standing directly in front of the open machine as it continued to cook food. I shut it right away and made sure to turn it off before reopening it. I did not feel nausea or any of the other symptoms of radiation poisoning. Should I still be worried? Though its waves are relatively weak, the fact that it can cook meat makes me wonder what it could do to me. I don't want to be cooked or suffer any of the long term effects of radiation....

I also thought of the recommendation of doctors to pregnant women to not stand too close to microwaves after reading your blog. If the microwaves are made to emit only a tiny amount of radiation, I would assume that the recommendation to pregnant women is a thing of the past as well. However, I found an article, that talks about a study done by Dr. De-Kun Li, who is a senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, CA. Li strapped a device to 801 pregnant women that measured their daily exposure to magnetic fields emitted from low-frequency devices such as microwaves, hair dryers, fans, coffee grinders, etc. They then studied the medical records of the children for the next 13 years. The study concluded that 20.8% of the children developed asthma. They also found that children whose mothers were on the higher end of the exposure scale, were 10x more likely to have asthma than those who had mothers that were in the lower percentages of exposure. I thought this was very interesting. While, it could all be chance, maybe pregnant women should still keep their distance from microwaves! Here is where I found the article:

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