They closed my question on the Physics Stack Exchange because it wasn't a purely physics question, so I'm trying here.

Recently I've come across the topic of scrapping microwaves, and the various warnings about the potential dangers. I've found out that generally speaking higher frequency radiation is more harmful, also that frequency itself is not the sole factor of harmfulness; as one question on the Physics site remarks the fact that microwaves and Wi-Fi use the same 2.4 GHz range, yet Wi-Fi doesn't cook. Anyway, I saw on a website:

Don’t take apart the magnetron or play with it for several good reasons! First, there is the obvious danger of 2.45 GHz microwave radiation.

There are two problems I see with this warning. First of all isn't 2.45 GHz well into the radio wave category? And also radiation of 2.45 GHz wouldn't be harmful in and of itself, right?

Also a comment from the Physics site:

wifi would be dangerous because of the microwaves, but it is limited to very low powers

This seems to imply that microwaves in and of themselves are harmful.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Higher frequency radiations are more likely to cause chemical damage (like to your DNA) because individual photons have higher energy. Lower frequency radiations are easily absorbed as heat but don't cause chemical damage. They are not dangerous at low power, but the high power can obviously burn. $\endgroup$
    – stochastic
    Feb 25, 2018 at 14:47

1 Answer 1


$2.45~\rm GHz$ is well into the microwave region, which is usually defined as radio waves with a frequency of greater than $1~\rm GHz$.

Microwaves can be harmful. If you stood in front of a $1~\rm MW$ microwave dish, you would be cooked basically instantly. But that doesn't mean they are harmful in small doses: if you stand in front of a $1~\rm MW$ visible light source, you would also be cooked. You can hold your hands in front of a fire, but sticking your hands in would be bad. Like heat and visible light, microwaves aren't intrinsically harmful in moderation, but they can be deadly if you have enough of them.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you, this seems to answer my question. The microwave when powered does indeed operate at a high power, but the sentence the: "obvious danger of 2.45 GHz microwave radiation" doesn't make sense if the microwave isn't powered. Also the sentence: "wifi would be dangerous because of the microwaves, but it is limited to very low powers", seems to imply that microwaves themselves are harmful, when in actual fact they should be less harmful than for example visible light at the same intensity... I believe. $\endgroup$
    – Zebrafish
    Feb 25, 2018 at 13:08

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