There are many things in life we should be afraid of when we step outside. In the world we live in, outside air pollution is now considered one of the biggest environmental health threats responsible for 7 million deaths all over the world.
One of those chemicals is carbon monoxide: The invisible killer.
Now, I don’t want to alarm you, but we all own devices inside our homes that produce carbon monoxide like microwaves.
If you ever wondered whether or not the rumors are true, this article will help you understand everything you need to know about microwaves and carbon monoxide.
Do microwaves produce carbon monoxide?
Yes, microwaves do produce carbon monoxide. It was discovered years ago that microwaves are attributed to 10 million tons of carbon monoxide released into the environment every year.
Carbon monoxide from microwaves was even found to produce more carbon monoxide than cars (7.7 to 6.8 million tons worth of it!).
How do microwaves produce carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a gas that can be deadly if inhaled. That’s why it’s important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
When you operate a microwave, it produces energy waves that cause water molecules in the food to vibrate. This creates heat, which cooks the food.
When microwaves heat food, they create electromagnetic radiation which can interact with certain materials to create carbon monoxide gas.
This is why it’s important to make sure that your microwave is clean and in good working condition- if there are any cracks or damage in your microwave, this could allow carbon monoxide gas to escape and potentially put you and your family at risk.
But these same energy waves can also cause other molecules in the air to vibrate. This can create combustion, which is related to global warming.
So, while microwaves are a convenient way to cook food, they do have an environmental impact. If you’re concerned about reducing your carbon footprint, consider using other cooking methods such as stovetop cooking or solar ovens.
Can microwaves set off carbon monoxide detectors?
As most people know, microwaves heat food by causing water molecules to vibrate. This produces heat, which is then transferred to the food.
Carbon monoxide is produced when carbon-containing materials are burned. Therefore, one might think that microwaves could set off carbon monoxide detectors.
However, according to experts, the amount of carbon monoxide produced by cooking devices such as microwaves is usually negligible. Unless you are cooking coal or fuel products, you will not have to worry about carbon monoxide alarms.
With that being said, there have been reports of microwaves setting off carbon monoxide alarms. However, there really hasn’t been any real-world proof that it was the microwaves in these households that were actually responsible for that. It could’ve been other appliances in the home.
This doesn’t mean that microwaves can’t set off the carbon monoxide alarm. They definitely can under the right conditions.
How can you test your microwave for carbon monoxide?
Microwaves put off carbon monoxide as a byproduct of the cooking process. They do put out up to 7.7 million tons of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere every year.
This does not mean that your microwave is putting off tons of carbon monoxide that is going to poison your entire neighborhood.
For the most part, unless there is something terribly wrong with your microwave, it is not likely not going to be enough to set off your detector.
So, if you want to test to see if your microwave is putting off carbon monoxide, you do have to be a little creative.
You can get handheld detectors that you can hold near the microwave while it is in use to see if it is putting off any carbon monoxide.
You can also open up your microwave and see if there is any residual carbon monoxide that might be present.
What can you do to lower the chances of setting off carbon monoxide detectors?
If you are concerned about carbon monoxide poisoning from your microwave, there are a few things you can do to prevent it.
- Make sure that your microwave is clean and free from any damage.
- Only use cookware that is approved for use in a microwave.
- Don’t heat food for longer than necessary. The longer you heat food in a microwave, the greater the chance of carbon monoxide gas being produced.
- Make sure there is plenty of fresh air circulating in your home.
- Do not run gas-powered appliances in your attached garage.
- Grill outdoors, away from windows and doors. Combining grilling and microwaving may just tip the scales of setting off your carbon monoxide alarm.
- Purchase carbon monoxide detectors from UL-listed dealers only.
- Pick a wired-in carbon monoxide detector that provides more reliable detection and fewer false positives.
- Regularly maintain and check all appliances that use combustion to function.
Is carbon monoxide from a microwave dangerous for people?
When it comes to carbon monoxide in the home that is a result of your microwave, you are not going to be at a huge risk in your home.
The major risk that comes with carbon monoxide that comes from microwaves is that, with hundreds of thousands of microwaves being used every day, the combined off-gas is the main concern.
You are not going to be in danger from carbon monoxide poisoning from just your microwave.
You are not going to be putting your family at any risk by using a microwave regularly if you are worried about carbon monoxide, you do need to put the detector close to the microwave to keep track.
Unless your microwave is terribly damaged, you are not going to have to worry so much about the possibility of carbon monoxide.
Is carbon monoxide from a microwave dangerous for pets?
With your pets, again, this is not a huge issue unless there is something seriously wrong with your microwave or unless you have a ton of microwaves in your home, your home is fully air-tight, and you are using them all at the same time.
For the most part, you are not going to be posing any threat to yourself, your pets, or your family by using a microwave.
If you feel that you are worried about carbon monoxide in your home, it is important to take the time to get a great detector that is going to help keep your home safe.
If you do see that there is carbon monoxide, you need to take the time to make sure you are keeping the detector on and working so that it will go off if there is any issue.
What should you do if your carbon monoxide goes off due to your microwave?
If you are dealing with a carbon monoxide detector that has gone off and you think it might be due to the microwave, you should first turn off the microwave and follow these next few steps.
- Turn off the microwave.
- Open up the windows and doors to help air out the home.
- Leave the area and call 911. You should stay outside and take any pets you have with you.
- Do not go back into the house just because the alarm stops. You should not enter the home until the home has been cleared and until the emergency responders have made sure that the home is clean and safe for you and your family to get back into.
- Make sure that you are keeping your home free of carbon monoxide and make sure that if you do have the alarm go off again, you take the time to get it checked out.
- If you see that there is any carbon monoxide in the home, you do need to take the time to really be careful and to make sure you are getting your home checked so that you can see where the carbon monoxide is coming from and ensure that you do stop it and help to keep the home safe.
- At this point, using a handheld carbon monoxide detector to measure the readings might be beneficial to see if your home is good enough to go back in or not.
What can we use to test carbon monoxide in the home?
There are certain devices that you can buy that can detect traces of carbon monoxide in your home. These types of devices are considered handheld carbon monoxide detectors. They’re usually used by professionals but if you are interested, you can find one online or at any hardware store.
Do I need to call poison control?
If you or someone you know has been exposed to carbon monoxide, it is important to call poison control immediately.
Carbon monoxide exposure can be very dangerous and even deadly. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, and confusion.
If you think someone has been poisoned by carbon monoxide, call poison control right away at 1-800-222-1222.
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