Mapping the Electromagnetic Field in Front of a Microwave Oven

(1) Portola High School, Irvine, California, (2) UCLA Extension, Los Angeles, California

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There is limited evidence that EMF may have negative health effects on human beings with extended exposure. This study measured the power density and strength of EMF at different distances and directions in front of a microwave oven. Our results showed that the EMF levels are high (≥ 100 mG) at “one arm’s length” distance (61 cm) in all directions, although the power density drops to a range of 0.01 – 0.10 mW/cm2. To achieve a power density of 0.05 mW/cm2 or less and an EMF level of 25 mG or less, the distance should be at least 91 cm and 122 cm, respectively, away from the microwave oven, especially in the left and front directions. Based on the measurement data, we created exposure maps using precautionary thresholds of 0.05 mW/cm2 and 25 mG for power density and EMF, respectively. The measurement results help to understand the EMF distribution in front of the microwave oven. The results suggest that one should avoid staying less than 122 cm away from the microwave oven during operation , and that the “one arm’s length” distance (61 cm) may not be sufficient due to the high EMF levels. This study helps to promote awareness of the potential health risks associated with microwave ovens.

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