The microwave oven is an ingenious tool that allows us to cook food quickly. However, many people are concerned that it may be leaking radiation and is harmful to our health. In reality, it is likely that any radiation escaping the microwave is far too low to cause any real harm.
The answer to the question of how do you know if your microwave is leaking radiation begins with understanding the basic properties of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). EMR is a form of energy that has a wavelength and frequency. It can travel through empty space and pass through both air and matter. When it passes through matter, it can be absorbed and converted to other forms of energy. This is the process that occurs in a microwave oven, where the microwaves hit the food and convert to heat energy.
EMR also has the property that it can penetrate objects and affect them at a distance. This is why a microwave oven has to be placed away from walls and other objects. A microwave oven is designed with a metal box to block any radiation from escaping outside the oven, but it is possible that some radiation could escape around the seals and doors.
If the leakage is substantial, it may be able to affect other devices in the area. For example, mobile phones use electromagnetic radiation in the microwave range to transmit data and make phone calls. This means that if the microwave is not shielded, or it is leaking radiation, phones will not work inside of it. This is what YouTuber Physics Girl discovered when she tried to call her own phone while it was inside the microwave.
When her phone did not ring, she knew that her microwave was shielding the phone from the EMR and was working correctly. She then went on to conduct further experiments. First, she wrapped her phone in aluminum foil to act as a near perfect Faraday cage. This stopped her phone from ringing while in the microwave, even when it was turned on. She then conducted a similar experiment with different microwaves, and found that some did not allow her phone to ring while others blocked the signal completely.
While this is a simple way to test for a microwave radiation leak, it is not foolproof. The level of radiation that leaks from a microwave is not constant and can vary depending on the size of the microwave, the design of the oven, and the material used to build it. Additionally, it is important to note that the FDA regulates how much EMR can be emitted by microwaves. It is extremely unlikely that any leaking radiation would be enough to cause any serious harm, and the small amount that does leak from most microwaves would be easily blocked by a person standing 2 inches away. If you are still concerned, you can always buy a microwave emission tester from an online retailer to verify the levels of radiation in your home.