The Internet is full of various shops, and some of them offer protective devices that claim to decrease UHF radiation exposure.
They come in different forms, sometimes even looking like makeshift blankets. Of course, the ads are full of scary facts about the harm from hair dryers, slow cookers, microwave ovens and other electrical appliances.
Are they really that dangerous? This is what we asked Associate Professor Aleksandr Duglav, an expert in UHF devices from the Department of Quantum Electronics and Radiospectroscopy.
- Dr. Duglav, how dangerous really the UHF radiation from our home appliances is?
- We are exposed to electromagnetic radiation on a daily basis. All home appliances emit EMR but the majority of those are very low frequency and therefore absolutely harmless. Some devices also emit acoustic waves, such as TV sets, radios, vacuum cleaners. Light is, of course, emitted by lighting devices. Ultraviolet radiation – which is indeed very detrimental – is emitted by quartz lamps in tanning parlors. So, generally speaking, everything emits EMR.
- So ultraviolet radiation, say, from the Sun, is harmful, but we shouldn't be afraid of microwave ovens?
- Home appliances are absolutely safe for humans. Their UHF emission is so weak that the only way to actually harm yourself is probably to sit all day before a TV or a computer screen and thus damage your eyesight. A microwave can only injure you if you leave it with the door open and physically insert your head inside the oven.
The most dangerous of our everyday devices is actually a cell phone. The highest radiation level happens when we start calling someone and the phone seeks the nearest station. I suggest keeping it further from your head at that moment. Wait for an answer and then get the phone to your ear – the radiation is safe then.
The biggest radiation dose can be consumed during physical therapy. And even then it's nothing special because physicians know the safety measures. Just don't stand directly near radar equipment, and you will be fine!
As it happens, many people still don't trust microwave ovens and food that was cooked in them. Associate Professor Arkady Kuramshin (Department of High Molecular and Organoelement Compounds) says why you shouldn't be wary:
- Most of the fears are unnecessary. A microwave is just a heating device. Many types of research have been made about the influence of microwaves on different substances. UHF radiation makes molecules move faster, therefore temperature rises. Overheating vegetable oils can lead to the creation of trans fats – they are not useful. Overconsumption of trans fats leads to coronary and other diseases.
Trans fats always appear while treating vegetable oils, so fried food is especially detrimental. Boiling and steaming are the best ways to cook – the temperature is relatively low, and therefore trans fats are virtually nonexistent.
It's no use to deny yourself the benefits of technical progress, you just have to be reasonable. Computers are actually the ones that are somewhat dangerous to today's workers and students. Professor Timur Zefirov (Chair of the Department of Healthcare) says, “Prolonged periods of computer activity negatively affect a person's eyesight, central nervous system becomes overstimulated which is especially detrimental to children and adolescents. Fatigue rates increase, eyesight worsens, other syndromes are also possible. All doctors agree that kids should spend significantly less time with computers. We worked out some recommendations for secondary school students by studying the kids at our IT Lyceum”.