Microwave oven users who are fond of peeping into it while the machine is in use expose themselves to contracting eye diseases such as cataract.
This is because microwaves have a heating effect and produce radiation which could harm the eyes or any delicate organ when it gets closer to it.
The Deputy Director at the Radiation Protection Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Dr Joseph Kwabena Amoako, disclosed this to The Mirror in an interview in Accra.
A cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye that affects vision.
“When you take microwaves, they operate at a frequency of 2,450 Megahertz or 2.45 Gigahertz, which spin water molecules in the food put in it and heat it up.
“In the process, it generates a lot of heat such that anyone who peeps into it could be burning the eyes slowly,” he explained.
Cooking in microwaves
According to Dr Amoako, microwave cooking is effective for foods that contain water, noting that it is not advisable for oily foods.
He explained that some studies had suggested that since microwaves tended to spin the molecules in food when cooking, “the spinning of the fat molecules tend to change the structure of the food and has the potential to have negative health consequences”.
He, however, dismissed the assertion that the use of microwaves could cause cancer in humans, emphasising that it had not been proven by scientists yet.
When using microwaves, the chief research scientist indicated, there was the need for users not to put foods in plastics to heat in microwaves because plastics contained certain chemicals that leached into foods when exposed to heat, and that could pose danger to the human body.
He advised those who desired to cook foods in microwaves to put them in ceramic bowls or specially designed microwave containers.
Using faulty electronic gadgets
Dr Amoako indicated that microwaves, just like other electronic gadgets such as mobile phones and laptops, were a source of electromagnetic fields which emit radiation and could be dangerous when one was exposed to them.
The situation is even worse when the microwave is faulty or slightly used and brought onto the Ghanaian market.
“Some tests done in some communities in Accra showed that some homes use faulty or used microwaves which have significant leakages, and that is dangerous to users.
“Electronic devices have their useful lifespan. So instead of retrofitting and using them, they should be discarded,” he stated.
Heating from phones and laptops
Even though heating from laptops and mobile phones and other electronic devices is not as high as that of microwaves, Dr Amoako stated that their long-term use could pose danger to any part of the body exposed to them since they produced heat.