Is Standing in Front of a Microwave Oven Dangerous? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 44 Old 04-02-2008, 05:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I was nuking a snack this afternoon and a co-worker told me I should not stand in front of the microwave oven because it can harm my baby. Seriously????

I thought the microwaves in use today are much safer than they were 15 or 20 years ago.

What do you think? Should I stop watching my food cook in the microwave?
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#2 of 44 Old 04-02-2008, 06:09 PM
 
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I was told not to during my last pregnancy, and I make a definite concerted effort to avoid the microwave if it is on... I don't know if it is true, but I'd rather take a step to the side than cause damage to the baby.
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#3 of 44 Old 04-02-2008, 06:25 PM
 
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I saw this study and read a report about microvaed heated water killing prefectly alive plants over 3 weeks.

I would stay clear of the microwave...both for eating and while it is on.

But, I am just weird that way (we don't own a microwave and I don't eat anything that comes out of one).

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#4 of 44 Old 04-02-2008, 06:27 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Hesperia View Post
I saw this study and read a report about microvaed heated water killing prefectly alive plants over 3 weeks.
?? how hot was the water heated? Boiling water is a known weed killer.
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#5 of 44 Old 04-02-2008, 06:30 PM
 
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If your microwave seals aren't in good shape, yes it can be. (or if your microwave is older) Otherwise no.

We tried the microwaved water thing, no changes we noticed.

that said, we don't actually use one anymore. we didn't like how everything cooked in it had a sweeter taste. We haven't had one for probably 4 years now.
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#6 of 44 Old 04-02-2008, 07:03 PM
 
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I was told to not stand in front of the microwave too when I was pregnant last year. I always think it's just an old wives's tale, but I am glad now that at least I was listening to the warning.
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#7 of 44 Old 04-02-2008, 07:41 PM
 
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I was just telling DH today I wanted to buy a microwave. Thanks for asking this question! I've been dying for frozen burritos and I hate waiting 45 mins for it to bake in the oven. I want it in 45 secs!

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#8 of 44 Old 04-02-2008, 08:15 PM
 
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down2earth, try a toaster oven. faster than a regular one.

we also head those kinds of things in a cast-iron frying pan, which is much faster than the oven too.
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#9 of 44 Old 04-02-2008, 09:44 PM
 
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I've heard they can cause miscarriage in the first trimester. Don't know where I've heard that, so can't back it up...
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#10 of 44 Old 04-02-2008, 10:19 PM
 
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I dunno, but it seems easy enough to stand a few feet away, so that's what I do.

Mom to DS 5/05 and DD 9/08
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#11 of 44 Old 04-04-2008, 01:15 AM
 
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I had heard that AND the microwave-heated-water-plant-killer thing, so I was secretly glad when our microwave died in the first trimester of my last pregnancy...we haven't replaced it since and, honestly, I am okay with that. I just don't trust technology...
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#12 of 44 Old 04-04-2008, 02:10 AM
 
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Until someone posts an actual study showing harm, I refuse to waste time and electricity by not using the microwave.

The articles I read by Googling "microwave safety" indicated both that microwaves in good repair do not release microwaves outside the enclosure (the instances where someone standing in front of an operating microwave oven were in ovens that had been modified to operate while the door was open) and that microwave cooking can reduce the formation of carcinogenic materials during cooking.

Two concerns brought up in the reading I did were:
1. that the nutritional value of the food might be reduced which was not supported in any study for any food except in thawing frozen breastmilk.
and
2. That the microwave can cook food without raising its temperature as much as conventional cooking, and therefore food borne illnesses can remain. Which is a concern, but, IMO, simply a cause for greater attention to proper food handling methods so that I'm not relying on the cooking process to fix problems caused by failing to refrigerate foods.


That said, if you research the topic yourself and are still concerned, here are some lower-energy, faster, ways of preparing food than your oven and range top:
toaster oven
steamer (get one that also works as a rice cooker)
electric kettle

also, consider a pressure cooker for use on your stove, and use lids when cooking as much as possible, that will speeding cooking times and reduce wasted energy.
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#13 of 44 Old 04-04-2008, 11:02 AM
 
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Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
Until someone posts an actual study showing harm, I refuse to waste time and electricity by not using the microwave.
Amen! (although I still step away as soon as I press start, just in case...) and thanks for the research.
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#14 of 44 Old 04-04-2008, 11:07 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Hesperia View Post
I saw this study and read a report about microvaed heated water killing prefectly alive plants over 3 weeks.
Yes it was in a scientific article, I read it probably 4-5 years ago. I have been trying to find it again ever since...
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#15 of 44 Old 04-04-2008, 11:22 AM
 
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#16 of 44 Old 04-04-2008, 12:26 PM
 
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I have been scared of them and lived without one for more than 10 years now...
I dont need scientific evidence to stay away because I believe in intuition more than science anyways.
:
microwaves alter the cellular structure of all natural things.
I would stay away while they are in use and in fact I wouldnt eat from one at all especially while pregnant...
but I mean I guess If you cant stand eating a cold lunch at work then at least just stay away while the machine is microwaving your food substances..:
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#17 of 44 Old 04-04-2008, 01:02 PM
 
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http://howthingswork.virginia.edu/microwave_ovens.html is pretty interesting, note especially the commentary on cellphones in #1516
and the discussion on cellular breakdown in #1169

And for fun:
One article on cellular changes due to microwave radiation:
Specifically regarding cattle

An assessement of the article's source.
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#18 of 44 Old 04-04-2008, 02:25 PM
 
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Microwave radiation penetrates all tissue of the human body EXCEPT for eyes and the developing fetus. According to "What to Expect when you're expecting" (not exactly an "alternative" perspective!) she says that developing fetuses are particularly vulnerable to the effects of microwaves.

My mother has metastatic breast cancer. Her oncologist at UCLA (ranks 6th in the nation for breast cancer research) wrote what most consider to be the definitive book on breast cancer (http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Susan-Loves...7329174&sr=8-1). In this book she talks specifically about the risk of microwave radiation and the development of cancer cells. I really encourage you to check it out at the libraray or at a bookstore if you question the link.

The other issue with microwave radiation is what you put your food on - there have been studies that show cooking food on a plastic plate causes the plastic to leach into the food. Certain plastic are known carcinogen.

I think you have to look at the materials and make up your own mind on the risks / benefits of using a microwave during pregnancy.
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#19 of 44 Old 04-04-2008, 02:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow! Thanks for all the information, mamas! I don't use the microwave very often, but now I think I'll be standing away from it now just to be safe.
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#20 of 44 Old 04-04-2008, 02:38 PM
 
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if it wasn't for the microwave i probably would not have eaten at all during my pregnancy.

that being said, i don't recall ever standing directly in front of the microwave waiting for my food to be done, but i was always in the same room.

"The most important work you and I will ever do will be within the walls of our own homes." -Harold B. Lee
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#21 of 44 Old 04-04-2008, 10:10 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ashley1972 View Post
Microwave radiation penetrates all tissue of the human body EXCEPT for eyes and the developing fetus. According to "What to Expect when you're expecting" (not exactly an "alternative" perspective!) she says that developing fetuses are particularly vulnerable to the effects of microwaves.

My mother has metastatic breast cancer. Her oncologist at UCLA (ranks 6th in the nation for breast cancer research) wrote what most consider to be the definitive book on breast cancer (http://www.amazon.com/Dr-Susan-Loves...7329174&sr=8-1). In this book she talks specifically about the risk of microwave radiation and the development of cancer cells. I really encourage you to check it out at the libraray or at a bookstore if you question the link.
"What to Expect..." is also known as "What to Fear..." so right there I'm taking that source with several large grains of salt. Especially since microwaves causing problems doesn't say anything about microwave ovens leaking microwaves and causing problems. Microwave radiation is a known problem, this is why microwave ovens are regulated to have a maximum amount of leakage (and as mentioned in the link I posted above, most ovens don't have measurable amounts of leakage) and why they are designed to stop emitting microwaves when the door is opened. Standing in front of an open microwave oven that's been modified to still produce microwaves is *BAD* idea.

More relevantly, the search I did with Amazon's search feature inside of Dr. Love's book for "microwaves' came up with one section which addresses microwave ovens in conjunction with other EMF devices and suggests avoiding standing close to any number of devices--such as computers--and limiting use of electric blankets and cellphones.

The other uses of "microwave" in the book deal with microwaves as a part of treatment for cancer.

There are no instances of "microwave radiation" in Dr. Love's book.

Again, all the information above is based on the Amazon.com search feature and if you feel there was a reference made in the book that was not caught by the terms I chose, please provide a page number and I'll use that to search.


Lastly, although the risk of exposure to microwaves from standing in front of a microwave oven is very small, I'm not debating whether to avoid standing in front of an operating oven. My microwave oven at home is set so that I could only get in front of it by climbing onto the counter, and when I use other microwave ovens I stand to one side or even return to my seat while they're in operation. I'm debating whether avoiding all use of microwave ovens is a necessary course of action.

I also choose to microwave food only in glass or ceramic containers.
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#22 of 44 Old 04-05-2008, 02:25 AM
 
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Using Microwaved water on plants always kills the plant.. I did that experience several times in highschool and each time th eplant dies within a week. The microwave does kill most of the vital nutrients and vitamins in food.. it also changes the chemical structure of food making it toxic. I know americans love their microwaves but in Europe they are banned bc they know it's harmful. Microwaves are actually banned in many countries! We do not have one in our home. I know standing in front of the microwave while nuking food can't be "good" for you so I wouldn't do it anymore.. especially pregnant. Why take any chances.. Just stand a couple steps away to be safe.. I mean do you really have to stand right in front of it?
I also know for sure you should NEVER heat up milk in the microwave.. It makes the chemical structure of the milk change to a toxic form.. that's why Dr's, Leleche group..etc will say get a bottle heater or heat on the oven instead. Especially breast milk.. that should never be heated in a microwave. In general they are not safe and I would avoid them as much as possible... There is lots of helpful info on DR. Mercola's website.. just search microwave & Milk
After you read those studies you will never want to use a microwave again..
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#23 of 44 Old 04-05-2008, 02:40 AM
 
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Actually, here is some info but if you read the article in it's entirety you will have a real eye opener. I don't really think you have too much to worry about standing in front of the microwave, unless your tummy is at the same level of it, then I'd move away.. But since you are pregnant I can't tell you how much you do not want to ever heat your breastmilk/formula up in the microwave...

Microwaves unsafe for baby's milk

A number of warnings have been made public, but have been barely noticed. For example, Young Families, the Minnesota Extension Service of the University of Minnesota, published the following in 1989:

"Although microwaves heat food quickly, they are not recommended for heating a baby's bottle. The bottle may seem cool to the touch, but the liquid inside may become extremely hot and could burn the baby's mouth and throat.

Also, the buildup of steam in a closed container, such as a baby bottle, could cause it to explode. Heating the bottle in a microwave can cause slight changes in the milk. In infant formulas, there may be a loss of some vitamins.

In expressed breast milk, some protective properties may be destroyed. Warming a bottle by holding it under tap water, or by setting it in a bowl of warm water, then testing it on your wrist before feeding may take a few minutes longer, but it is much safer."

Dr. Lita Lee of Hawaii reported in the December 9, 1989 Lancet:

"Microwaving baby formulas converted certain trans-amino acids into their synthetic cis-isomers. Synthetic isomers, whether cis-amino acids or trans-fatty acids, are not biologically active.

Further, one of the amino acids, L-proline, was converted to its d-isomer, which is known to be neurotoxic (poisonous to the nervous system) and nephrotoxic (poisonous to the kidneys). It's bad enough that many babies are not nursed, but now they are given fake milk (baby formula) made even more toxic via microwaving."

http://www.mercola.com/article/microwave/hazards.htm
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#24 of 44 Old 04-05-2008, 01:35 PM
 
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Using Microwaved water on plants always kills the plant.. I did that experience several times in highschool and each time th eplant dies within a week.
What temperature was the water at when you gave it to the plant? What happened when you heated the water on the stove and gave it to a plant?
I'm asking because I've killed plants in less than a day by pouring boiling water on them that I heated up in a kettle, and the people at Snopes.com tried the same experiment and didn't have those results.
Quote:
Originally Posted by my2elliots View Post
The microwave does kill most of the vital nutrients and vitamins in food.. it also changes the chemical structure of food making it toxic. I know americans love their microwaves but in Europe they are banned bc they know it's harmful. Microwaves are actually banned in many countries!
Such as? A search for "european microwave oven ban" only came up with references to a ban made in Russia in 1976, which is no long in effect.
Quote:
Originally Posted by my2elliots View Post
Just stand a couple steps away to be safe.. I mean do you really have to stand right in front of it?
Are you arguing for not using microwave ovens or are you arguing for not standing in front of them when using them? (Also, please note that the smiley lends a sarcastic and belittling tone to your posts that colors your reader's perceptions.)

In your first post you note:
Quote:
Originally Posted by my2elliots View Post
I also know for sure you should NEVER heat up milk in the microwave.. It makes the chemical structure of the milk change to a toxic form.. that's why Dr's, Leleche group..etc will say get a bottle heater or heat on the oven instead.
But in your second post you quote this article:
Quote:
Originally Posted by my2elliots View Post
Microwaves unsafe for baby's milk

A number of warnings have been made public, but have been barely noticed. For example, Young Families, the Minnesota Extension Service of the University of Minnesota, published the following in 1989:

"Although microwaves heat food quickly, they are not recommended for heating a baby's bottle. The bottle may seem cool to the touch, but the liquid inside may become extremely hot and could burn the baby's mouth and throat.

Also, the buildup of steam in a closed container, such as a baby bottle, could cause it to explode. Heating the bottle in a microwave can cause slight changes in the milk. In infant formulas, there may be a loss of some vitamins.

In expressed breast milk, some protective properties may be destroyed. Warming a bottle by holding it under tap water, or by setting it in a bowl of warm water, then testing it on your wrist before feeding may take a few minutes longer, but it is much safer."
Which emphasizes the physical dangers of heating a bottle, in that the baby could get burned. Which is the real issue that has LLL, doctors, et al warning against heating bottles in the microwave. The reduction of vitamins observed in formula is a known result of heating food--by any means. Every time you cook, you're reducing some nutrients. The way to mitigate that, in food that needs cooking, is to reduce the water used in cooking and to speed the time of cooking--boiling on the stove is the worst possible way to cook food.

It also notes the previously mentioned destruction of breastmilk immunities: "destruction of" not "transformation of" not "sudden toxicity of"

Also, the "A number of warnings have been made public, but have been barely noticed." makes me suspect that you found the article through Mercola's website.

And frankly, Mercola is a fearmonger. He uses the same sort of rhetoric as the people who disseminate the "Obama is a Muslim!!!" sorts of emails.
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#25 of 44 Old 04-05-2008, 05:39 PM
 
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I believe it is. For my first three pregnancies, I always went behind a wall when I microwaved something (it was located in our kitchen). This might sound funny, but we relocated it to our laundry room, where I prefer it, because that way it is not dangerous to anyone if the seals are not secure.
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#26 of 44 Old 04-05-2008, 05:44 PM
 
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I'd never heard of this until I saw Juno.

I don't have a microwave anyway, so I don't worry about it.

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#27 of 44 Old 04-05-2008, 06:08 PM
 
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Kudos to Sapphire for throwing up a challenge (and trying to back up with research) and being willing to debate. I'm not saying she's necessarily right (or wrong) about the microwaves, but she's actually refreshing to read, if just for her willingness to oppose the prevailing opinion. I started reading these boards to seek alternative viewpoints from the mainstream orthodoxy, only to find that there's a subtle orthodoxy here as well, with its own censorship mechanisms. Debate on, Sapphire, debate on!
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#28 of 44 Old 04-05-2008, 08:56 PM
 
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Just some missing info, the heated water from the microwave is/was poured over the plants AFTER it cooled.

I know that boiling water kills plants, or any kind!!

Birth Attendant. Placenta Encapsulator. Reiki Practitioner. Vegan. Aspiring Midwife. Breastfeeding Educator Student. Two years of trying for our love child.
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#29 of 44 Old 04-05-2008, 10:56 PM
 
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Just some missing info, the heated water from the microwave is/was poured over the plants AFTER it cooled.

I know that boiling water kills plants, or any kind!!
I was just checking my2elliots's procedures because the Snopes people said they'd done the same experiment with different results. When two people claim different results for the same experiment, there's a chance that something was different between the two experiments.
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#30 of 44 Old 04-05-2008, 11:09 PM
 
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I base my opinion that microwave ovens don't leak on the assertion of Dr. Bloomfield that he has used a meter which measures microwave levels on numerous microwave ovens (see "How things work" links above) and the only one which had measurable levels (still below the governmental regulations) was the one that had the door offset by a few millimeters from having been messed with so much as part of his experiments. That is, the only microwave that had any leakage was the damaged one.

I base my opinion that Mercola is a fear monger on his rhetoric.
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