Microwave Oven Radiation: Causes and its Impact

The invention of the microwave oven made a tremendous change in our cooking style in a kitchen. It is one of the must-have kitchen appliances in every home these days. Who doesn’t like that delicious pizza served with hot fumes?, I don’t know about you but I love it

Keeping the advantages of a microwave oven aside, we must discuss the potential danger it would cause if not handled or maintained properly. The important thing to bother about microwave oven is its emission of radiation to heat the food.

This radiation is safe until it is leaked out of your microwave oven. So, It is highly suggested to every microwave oven users to know another side of a microwave oven, if they neglect its maintenance.

What is Microwave Oven Radiation?

The actual meaning of radiation is the emission of energy from an unstable nucleus in the form of waves or subatomic particles. Similarly, in the case of Microwave oven radiation, the amount of energy releases from the microwaves is, in the form of radiation. So, the energy which helps to cook food in an oven is a microwave oven radiation. These microwaves are electromagnetic waves, also called short radio waves.

Range of Microwave Oven Radiation Frequency

Generally, these microwave radiation comes under the non-ionized radiation of radio waves. The range of this microwave oven radiation frequency is about 2.4 GHz with a wavelength of 12.2 cm. These are all about the basic details of microwave oven radiation. Now, let us find how a microwave oven produces microwaves.

Production of Microwave Radiation in an Oven

The key element for the production of microwaves in Oven is a Magnetron. This magnetron is a vacuum device that helps the production of the microwaves. These microwaves release energy in the form of radiation which is called microwave radiation in the oven (Know how exactly a magnetron performs to produce microwaves in the oven by clicking here ).

The production of microwaves radiation is not enough to cook, right! The oven has to work to heat/cook food. But, How the food in the oven is getting cooked?

How a Microwave Oven Works While Cooking?

Before knowing the working behind cooking food in the oven, let us know the parts which involved while cooking food in a microwave oven,

A microwave oven has 4 parts like,

  • Magnetron
  • Waveguide
  • Stirrer
  • Glass base

As we discussed earlier the functioning of magnetron i.e., it produces microwaves. From the magnetron, microwaves will pass through the waveguide and reaches the stirrer. The stirrer has a fan-like device which will let the microwaves to spread all over inside the microwave oven.

Then the microwaves get reflected by the walls of the oven and bounce back several times in a to and fro motion. Finally, the microwave radiation, get penetrated inside the food and reacts with the water molecules present inside the food. This makes the water molecules to vibrate. Due to these vibrations, the food gets heated.

Till now everything seems to be perfect, but what makes up this whole discussion? The microwaves are produced by magnetron. These are harmless until they are present in a closed container ( microwave oven ).

The actual problem starts when it starts leaking.

For a clear understanding of how does a microwave oven works, please watch this video.

Reasons behind Microwave oven radiation leakage

Generally, the metal shield inside the oven makes the microwaves bounce back inside the oven for proper penetration into the food we need to heat. These microwaves are tightly held in that frame, there is no chance to escape of microwaves.

But the following are the common causes of microwave oven leakage.

  • Improper Working of Door Latch

The door is an important part of the oven to secure the whole process of cook within the oven. If the door working is not proper then there are the chances of the leakage of microwave oven radiation. Check for any damage if happens then replace it with a new one.

  • Damage/Modified Oven

Some of the people use old microwave ovens, damaged ovens, or modified ovens. As the microwaves move insides the oven but they find any outlet caused by the damage they tend to come outside of the outlet which causes leakage.

  • Not Having Protective Shield

Damage to the protective shield of a microwave oven can also cause radiation emission from it.

Due to this leakage, the radiation from the microwave oven causes some health problems.

Health Consequences of Microwave Oven Radiation – Impacts

Even though the microwaves are non-ionized radiation i.e harmless radiation, the continuous exposure to these waves can cause health problems like…

  • Damage to Human Cells and Tissues

The limit of the human body to the radiation frequency is around 10 Hz. But the microwave oven radiation frequency range is 2.4 GHz. So, the radiation from the oven can cause damage to the human cells and tissues when exposed to it.

  • Loss to Eyesight

The radiation from the microwaves damages the eyes and leads to loss of vision. Eyes are very much sensitive to radiation.

  • Making Food as Nutrition less and Vitamins less

Apart from the radiation, the food we keep in the oven becomes nutrition less because the nutritional structure got disturbed with the water molecule’s vibration and makes food as nutrition less.

Microwaves also turn the food which contains B12 Vitamin into an inactive vitamin food.

  • Change in Blood Cells Count

The radiation of microwaves also changes the blood count of red blood cells and white blood cells. The decrease in white blood cells results in low immunity power.

  • Food Poisoning

According to the microwave radiation pattern, the food with uneven shape and size in the oven while cooking results in the formation of cold/hot spots. The unevenly cooked food will remain the bacteria inside the food and results in food poisoning.

All the above things might panic you but you can avoid them by taking proper care of your microwave oven and standing at a safe distance from the oven when it is switched ON.

What is the Safe distance from Microwave Oven?

It is best suggested to stay at least 2 inches away from your microwave oven while it is cooking or reheating the food. Being a safe distance can eliminate exposure to microwave radiation.

Is there any Microwave Radiation Leakage Detector?

Yes, there is a microwave radiation leakage detector that detects the amount of radiation caused by a microwave oven during a leakage test. The limit of the leakage is 5 milliwatts (mW) per square kilometer is safe.

Click here to know more about the International Standards of Microwaves Oven

What about a Microwave Oven Radiation Shield?

The purpose of creating this shield is to neutralize the effects of microwaves from the oven. This shield will protect us from the dangerous microwaves radiation emission.

Also, if you are using an oven which is more than 10 years old then you need to replace it immediately without a second thought by choosing one of the best microwave ovens for you.


Considering all these facts and information on a microwave oven, it is recommended to take proper care of your oven periodically and eliminate the potential danger from the microwave oven.

Being said that, prefer to cook in a microwave oven only when you are running out of time and stay at a safe distance while it is put to work.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q) Do microwaves need to spin? Not really, the microwaves are not turn-able. But the food in microwaves should rotate to cook the food evenly to avoid cold or hot spots.

Q) Can a microwave give you cancer? No, the food in the oven is heated by vibrating the water molecules by radiation of microwaves but not by creating the food as a radioactive element.

Q) Does microwave kill bacteria? Yes, the heat produced by the water molecules will kill the bacteria. But it also depends on the shape and size of the food in the oven.

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