UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
Home
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Webcasts
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Can microwave wavelengths be harmful to people?
Answer 1:

Microwave radiation can indeed be dangerous to humans, but you are unlikely to encounter microwaves powerful enough to harm anyone in most places.
Microwave radiation isn't fundamentally different from any other types of non-ionizing radiation. Forms of ionizing radiation, like gamma rays, have very high energies that can actually rip electrons off of atoms. Ionizing radiation can very negatively affect living things by destroying parts of cells and DNA. Microwaves don't have this much energy.
Actually,microwaves, light, and radio are all forms of non-ionizing radiation.

The danger from any form of non-ionizing radiation comes from very high intensities. Just like you should never look into a laser (a high intensity form of light,) you wouldn't want to expose yourself to high levels of microwave radiation. Your microwave oven is safe because it blocks microwaves from exiting. What is it about microwave ovens that keeps the microwaves in?

A new concern that a lot of people have is over the radiation their cellphones give off. Most studies seem to show that it isn't harmful, but it's very hard to study this kind of thing because there are so many variables,so scientists are still looking into the effects of this kind of microwave exposure.


Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2015 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use