Step 7: Microwaves and You
As much as you may love microwaves they don't love you so you gotta be careful around them! Microwaves do not have enough energy to chemically change substances by ionization because they are below the level of non-ionizing radiation. The word "radiation"only means that energy can radiate. It dose not mean radioactive in this case but it can. It has not been shown conclusively that microwaves have enough adverse biological effects at low levels. Some but not all studies suggest that long-term exposure may have a carcinogenic effect. This is separate from the risks associated with very high intensity exposure, which can cause heating and burns like any heat source, and not a unique property of microwaves specifically.During World War II, it was observed that individuals in the radiation path of radar installations experienced clicks and buzzing sounds in response to microwave radiation. This microwave auditory effect was thought to be caused by the microwaves inducing an electric current in the hearing centers of the brain. Research by NASA in the 1970s has shown this to be caused by thermal expansion in parts of the inner ear. When injury from exposure to microwaves occurs, it usually results from dielectric heating induced in the body. Exposure to microwave radiation can produce cataracts by this mechanism, because the microwave heating denatures proteins in the crystalline lens of the eye faster than the lens can be cooled by surrounding structures. The lens and cornea of the eye are especially vulnerable because they contain no blood vessels that can carry away heat. Exposure to heavy doses of microwave radiation (as from an oven that has been tampered with to allow operation even with the door open) can produce heat damage in other tissues as well, up to and including serious burns which may not be immediately evident because of the tendency for microwaves to heat deeper tissues with higher moisture content. NEVER get inside a microwave and close the door, you can't always get out!