Electric home appliances have made our housework simpler and easier. These appliances help us cook food, heat the house during the winter months or cool it during summer months. Though the appliances are great conveniences, they emit electromagnetic (EM) radiation at low frequencies. They operate at a network frequency of between 50 to 60 Hz, although there is other equipment that operates at higher frequencies.
Do electric stoves, and other home appliances such as heaters emit an electromagnetic field (EMF)? Electrical appliances like stoves and heaters do produce EMFs. These EMFs can accumulate, creating a high level of radiation that is harmful to human health. Almost all the equipment in the kitchen generates electromagnetic radiation.
The kitchen is one of the areas where the highest amounts of EMF radiation is emitted. It comes from appliances such as stoves, heaters, microwave ovens, and dishwashers. You can be subjected to a high amount of electromagnetic radiation while cooking a meal for your family. Therefore, it’s advisable to keep a distance of at least 3 feet from the source of EMF whenever possible. For example, don’t stand next to the electric stove when not actively using it. Similarly, don’t wait in front of the microwave when you are waiting for your drink or meal to heat up.
Electric heaters can generate over 100 milliGauss (mG) of electromagnetic radiation; therefore, you can be absorbing more than heat when you stand or sit next to them.
An electric stove produces more EMF radiation than a gas stove. If you have a digital LCD or LED clock on the stove, whether electric or gas, it has a transformer behind it. The transformer produces high magnetic fields that can at times exceed 10 (mG). Therefore, being close to the stove while cooking results in higher exposure to magnetic field radiation than if you sit at the table while waiting for the water to boil, for example.
How do Home Appliances Emit EM Radiation?
Whenever a current passes through an electric conductor such as a metallic wire, it creates magnetic fields. The higher the current, the higher the magnetic field that is generated. Therefore, the frequency of the flowing current is equivalent to the frequency of electromagnetic radiation.
If two appliances have different electric voltage, then the electric field generated is different. The amount of EM radiation is reduced based on the distance from the source. The farther you go from the source, the lower the risk of exposure.
Electric appliances have multiple components that emit EM radiation. For example, power converters, wires, electronic boards, and other electronic components emit electromagnetic radiation whether turned on or off. The frequency of the EM radiation emitted depends on the frequency of the electric network.
This low-frequency radiation penetrates through walls. Therefore, you should consider the location of the appliances in relation to the other ways you use your home. For example, don’t put your favorite seating area on the other side of the wall from your appliances, or directly beside your wireless router. This will minimize your exposure to electromagnetic radiation.
EMF Radiation in a Standby Mode
Home appliances emit EMF radiation at extremely low frequencies even when the electric network is switched off or put on standby mode. Therefore, the best way to reduce electromagnetic radiation is to completely cut off the power supply and unplug devices from the sockets when not in use. When unplugging the device from the socket, be very careful because there is a higher chance of getting electrified.
If you’re using a multi-socket that has a power switch, you can turn off the power supply to all the devices connected to the socket. Therefore, no risk is involved.
A multi-socket is easy to install and it reduces the electromagnetic radiation emitted by kitchen appliances on standby mode. It cuts down the power supply on these devices and also protects them from power bursts.
Managing Radiation at Home
Electric and magnetic fields with frequencies of about 50 to 60 cycles per second are considered to be extremely low frequency (ELF). 60 cycles is extremely low compared to radio frequencies or light waves. There are more concerns about health issues caused by magnetic fields than from the electric fields. As the current flows through the wires, it generates magnetic fields. A higher current will result in higher magnetic fields.
The majority of electric appliances produce heat through electric resistance. Each of the electric appliances emit radiation at different rates. Different types of radiation behave differently. The ELF radiation can penetrate any material at home. It can pass through concrete walls, metals, bricks, and other materials including your body.
Although the source of the radiation may be high, it reduces as you move further away from the equipment emitting the radiation.
Different appliances have different EMF radiation. You can determine the strength of each EMF source by using an EMF meter. Measure the strength both near the source and at progressively distant points from the source. The further you go, the less EMF will be registered. Measure the EMF of each appliance to know how strong and how extensive it is so that you can establish a safe zone.
EMF meters can also measure the radiation coming from the wiring of ELF appliances. You can use a Gauss meter at home to measure the field coming from items such as the transformer fitted on your digital LCD or LED clock and electric stove. A Gauss meter reading below 1.0 mG shows that you’re safe from EMF radiation. If you’re a person that’s sensitive to electricity, you will want a Gauss meter reading of less than 0.5 mG.
The front burner of the electric stove exposes you to a magnetic field. Therefore, you should measure the safe distance using the Gauss meter. A safe distance should be below 1.0 mG when the front burner is on. Alternatively, you can use the back burners to minimize exposure to magnetic fields. Read more on managing EMF radiation from kitchen appliances here.
When buying kitchen appliances you should consider acquiring the most energy-efficient appliances you can. For example, you can use technologies like induction ranges or heat pumps for your water heater.
How to Minimize Exposure from Electric Stoves and Heaters
Here are some quick safety tips to minimize exposure from electric stoves and heaters:
- You should always keep a safe distance from sources of EMF. Keep a distance of at least 3 feet when you can.
- Disconnect all electric appliances from the power supply when they’re not in use.
- Avoid putting work stations or sleeping beds on the other side of the wall from where appliances are located.
- Use RF protector material. For example, RF blocking wallpaper can be put on walls and doors.
- Choose a stove model that has the power for the electronic control or clock at either the back or on the sides, but not on the front. They shouldn’t have a magnetic field at the front where you are directly exposed while cooking.
- Reduce radiation as well as improve the performance of your electric heaters by adding extra insulation.
Stoves and electric heaters are some of the kitchen appliances that generate the most electromagnetic radiation when on and in standby mode.
Depending on the type of appliances you use, you will be exposed to varying amounts of EMF. This is because some appliances generate and radiate a higher amount of electromagnetic field than others. If you have portable heaters in your home, you may be exposed to low levels of EMF radiation. Heaters with high magnetic fields will result in high exposure to EMF.
Electric stoves and heaters emit different rates of EMF radiation and therefore, you should measure the distance from the source of each appliance in order to determine a safe space. When you can, you should always keep a safe distance from electric appliances to reduce the risk of exposure. If the devices are not in use, you should turn them off.
If the electric stove has a clock, use a Gauss meter to measure the amount of magnetic field being transmitted by the transformer on the clock. This will help to determine the distance you have to keep away from the stove to limit the exposure.
There are many sources of EMF exposure in the home, and much of the exposure comes from home appliances such as stoves and heaters. Protect yourself by knowing about the sources of EMF in your home, measuring the fields, and establishing safe zones to minimize your exposure.