Fact Check: Microwave Radiation In Video Is NOT 100 Times Higher Than Safe Levels

Fact Check

  • by: Marlo Lee
Fact Check: Microwave Radiation In Video Is NOT 100 Times Higher Than Safe Levels Safe To Use

Is the microwave in a Facebook video emitting so much radiation that it would be harmful to a consumer? No, that's not true: According to an expert, the radiation reading seen in a video is 2,630 times lower than the federal safety standard set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The claim appeared in a Facebook post (archived here) on March 15, 2022. It opens:

Imagine still using a microwave in 2021 🀒

This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Screen Shot 2022-03-21 at 10.14.40 AM.png

Facebook screenshot(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Tue Mar 22 14:02:05 2022 UTC)

The 12-second video, backed by ominous electronic sounds, gives no explanation for what is being shown beyond a few lines of text that appear on-screen. And it cites no source or established standards for its conclusion that a meter reading shown on screen is "over 100x higher than 'safe' levels."

The subject of the video places an electromagnetic field reader in front of a microwave that has been turned on. Text appears during the 12-second process:

This meter measures the intensity of RF radiation

The number on the top left is off the chart

Over 100x higher than 'safe' levels

Use a toaster oven or pan instead!

Lead Stories reach out to Dr. Jerrold Bushberg, chair of the board of directors for the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements, who said in an email on March 23, 2022 that the meter seen in the video measured 19 milliwatts/meter squared (mW/m2 ) or 1.9 microwatts/centimeter squared (uW/cm2).

The FDA safety standard is 5,000 uW/cm2 (microwatts by centimeters squared) of radiation from microwaves. What the electromagnetic field reader in the video shows is 2,630 times lower than allowed.

The FDA says: "Most injuries related to microwave ovens are the result of heat-related burns from hot containers, overheated foods, or exploding liquids. Most injuries are not radiation-related.

"That said, there have been very rare instances of radiation injury due to unusual circumstances or improper servicing. In general, microwave oven radiation injuries are caused by exposure to large amounts of microwave radiation leaking through openings such as gaps in the microwave oven seals. However, FDA regulations require that microwave ovens are designed to prevent these high level radiation leaks."

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Marlo Lee is a fact checker at Lead Stories. She is a graduate of Howard University with a B.S. in Biology. Her interest in fact checking started in college, when she realized how important it became in American politics. She lives in Maryland.

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