When I start up my microwave, our computer screen — geographically located just two feet away — goes a bit haywire. I have to admit it scares me a little.
Is it a power issue, two devices working hard on the same circuit, or are electromagnetic microwaves somehow getting out and interfering with the electromagnetic fields given off by our relatively old eMac’s CRT screen? If it’s the latter, aren’t microwaves supposed to be built to shield us from those waves? And if they aren’t shielding 100 per cent of the microwaves, what impact are those waves having on me, sitting at the computer two feet away, as the screen starts to flutter and twitch?
The other day while using the computer I started to feel a bit weird, like the side of my head was heating up and I jumped out of my chair. Was it a real sensation, related to the microwaves, or was it just a coincidence — something I wouldn’t have noticed if I wasn’t in arm’s reach of a microwave when it happened?
Whatever the answer is, I think it’s best not to take any chances. I’m going to get rid of that microwave at the earliest opportunity and buy another unit that mounts over the stove at the earliest opportunity. It’s a lot farther away from the computer, and it will be shielded on four of six sides by cupboards and the back wall of the kitchen. In the meantime I’m going to give it a wide berth just to be safe.
Which brings me to cell phones. While microwave ovens and cell phones operate at similar bandwidth, my oven puts out several hundred to well over a thousand times as many watts of power. That’s why the capillaries in our brains don’t pop like so much popcorn when we make a call.
But does their lower power output make cell phones 100 per cent safe?
Last week Toronto’s top medical officer advised Canadians to limit the time children and teens spend talking on cell phones — not because there’s any definitive proof that cell phone use can lead to illnesses like brain tumors, but out of caution. Some recent studies of long-time cell phone users do suggest that they may be at greater risk to certain types of brain tumors.
The truth is that nobody knows what the long-term effect of exposure to cell phones and other wireless signals may be, and anybody who says differently is only guessing. People once said DDT, PFCs, tritium paint, and lead were safe, and it took years — millennia, in the case of lead — to prove otherwise.