Answer to Question #8044 Submitted to "Ask the Experts"
The following question was answered by an expert in the appropriate field:
Microwave ovens are actually regulated by two federal agencies; the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates the two radiofrequencies assigned for microwave generation, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limits the radiation levels. FDA requires two safety interlocks to prevent the ovens from operating with the door open; otherwise any microwave radiation emanating from these ovens is considered extremely low and safe, even for cats. A mandatory standard of 5 mWatts per cm2 at 5 cm from any surface of the oven is the actual standard. In the 1970s Robert van Allen, for whom the van Allen radiation belts are named, made a statement that getting injured from a microwave oven was analogous to getting sunburn from moonlight! He even offered to sit on his oven 24 hours a day.
I am attaching several URLs from several organizations, some of which provide additional links, for additional information.
The Federal Communications Commissions has standards.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also has the authority to establish such standards when the FDA consider it a safety issue; the FDA site covers a broad range of such electromagnetic products.
The Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Web site provides some excellent information.
The American Cancer Society also considers such radiation safe.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an excellent and informative site.
And finally, I will refer you to our own Health Physics Society site. Simply search on "microwave ovens" for additional answers to related questions.
I hope this is useful information.
Orhan H. Suleiman
Topical Editor, Health Physics Society