Answer to Question #7030 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"

Category: Micro/Radio Waves, Radar & Powerlines — Microwaves and Radiofrequency

The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:

When microwaving tea bags with staples in them, I understand that as long as the staple is submerged in water, there is no fire hazard. However, I'm wondering if microwaving the staple causes any toxic or harmful chemicals to be released, like I know is true for some plastics. Obviously, I'd like to avoid poisoning myself.

There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that exposing staples to microwaves will cause any toxic or harmful chemicals to be released. Microwaves will be reflected by the metal, not absorbed.

Although there has been some research suggesting that some plastics, if heated, may release some very low levels of some chemicals, these amounts are not considered hazardous. Definitely use products that have been labeled for microwave use and for storing or heating foods. I recommend that you read a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) article on plastics and microwave ovens.

Orhan H. Suleiman, MS, PhD

Answer posted on 22 February 2008. The information posted on this web page is intended as general reference information only. Specific facts and circumstances may affect the applicability of concepts, materials, and information described herein. The information provided is not a substitute for professional advice and should not be relied upon in the absence of such professional advice. To the best of our knowledge, answers are correct at the time they are posted. Be advised that over time, requirements could change, new data could be made available, and Internet links could change, affecting the correctness of the answers. Answers are the professional opinions of the expert responding to each question; they do not necessarily represent the position of the Health Physics Society.