Microwave Health Effects
How do micro waves effect humans?
Electromagnetic radiation in the 1 mm to 1 m wavelength range (300 MHz to
300 Ghz) is referred to as microwave radiation, and is part of what is
known as radiofrequency (RF) radiation. The latter covers the 0.5 MHz to
300 GHz range and is considered in the context of adverse biological effects.
RF radiation is nonionizing radiation. This means that, in general, it
does not have sufficient energy to kick an electron off an atom thus
producing charged particle in a body and cause biological damage.
The only proven harmful effect from exposure to microwave (or RF) radiation
is thermal. RF radiation can enter deep into the body and heat human
organs. Thus, the depth of penetration and the level absorption of
radiation in the the body are relevant.
- Above 10 GHz (3 cm wavelength or less) heating occurs mainly in the outer
skin surface. - From 3 GHz to 10 GHz (10 cm to 3 cm) the penetration is
deeper and heating higher.
- From 150 MHz to about 1 GHz (200 cm to 25 cm wavelength), penetration is
even deeper and because of high absorption, deep body heating can occur.
Any part of the body that cannot dissipate heat efficiently or is heat
sensitive may be damaged by microwave radiation of sufficient power. The
lens of the eye and testes are respective examples.
Are there non-thermal ADVERSE effects of microwave radiation in humans? We
know that there ARE non-thermal effect: microwaves can cause hearing
sensation, can affect behavior (in animal studies), etc. Are these effects
adverse and reversible? Research is still continuing in this area as well
as in the area of RF radiation effects on immune and central nervous
system. Much more work is needed and maybe you can get a degree in science
and do some research in this area.
Have said all this, it is my personal view that man-made effects (i.e.,
those that have not been a part of our natural history) have to be treated
with caution, and lack of evidence for adverse effects is NOT the same
thing as proof of safety.
Dr. Ali Khounsary
Advanced Photon Source
Argonne National Laboratory
Since microwaves are a form of energy, they can affect humans, just like
the sun or other energy sources can. Our skin does not like to be
bombarded with energy sources. What can you do? Make sure that the
door seal is kept clean and not torn. Standing near one leaking
microwaves is not beneficial, and we could get burnt. The skin will
redden like sunburn or get a worse burn depending on our exposure. Used
correctly, the energy from microwaves are helpful to cut cooking times.
Click here to return to the General Topics Archives
Update: June 2012