Your input on this research study re: induction safety?

tnsongbirdOctober 1, 2012

I'm "new" to appliance shopping as we are about to break ground on a house. Thanks to this forum I have all my appliance choices done and have decided upon the Bosch (or possibly Electrolux) induction cooktop. Being curious about any safety issues after a recent health scare, I found a recent publication from June 2012 - I wish it listed which particular brands of induction cooktops were tested. Any way to find that out?

The last conclusion on the article states that:

"We believe that induction hobs, if used at all, should be used with great caution and that pregnant women (including those trying to become pregnant) and children should keep out of the kitchen while induction cookers are in use."

Here is the abstract:

and the article:

I understand this is a European-based article (and am also wondering if the US guidelines are less or more than the UK's - my guess is more?) but the principles are still the same. Is there a way to find out which induction cooktops truly emit within recommended guidelines? I'd love for those of you knowledgeable in the topic to weigh in. I was thinking induction would be a "safer" option than a gas range but now I'm not so sure? We are building our house with ICFs and I also like the "cleanliness" of induction for air quality too.

Thanks for any and all opinions.

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This general topic was addressed in length within the last few months. Please search this forum using the local search tool or using Google Advanced Search with the site set to The forum comments, of course, will be the opinions of those responding and not peer reviewed study results.

The NIH abstract doesn't provide any data that can be made use of without the entire article. By its nature it raises the questions: At what distance do these overexposure levels occur? Was there a pan on the hob? What data exist to establish health limits at the low frequencies in use? Has the computer model been vetted by any independent entity?

The second reference is more complete, but even if the measurements and models are taken as canonically true, it doesn't answer the question of what data exist to assert a particular B-field safety limit at, say, 20 kHz. The assertion of lower is better is not necessarily supportable here, just as it is arguable for low levels of ionizing radiation.

Low frequency RF was in the past a matter of great contention centered around the similar frequencies used by the low-frequency submarine communication systems. As far as I know they are still in operation and no measurable health hazards have been publicized that I have seen. Even the health hazards of the much higher frequency operation of cell phones held at the ear are still yielding mixed result reports.

As far as the distance quibble in the second reference, I just measured my Kenmore (Electrolux Icon clone) vis-a-vis where I stand when cooking. The front hobs are at least 30 cm away, and even leaning on the soapstone the rear hobs are at least 30 cm away. However, different mounting configurations or pregnancy might lead to lower distance values for some.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:23PM
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The induction site is a good source of information on induction cooking. You might look through that site, and ask them about this study if its not mentioned there (e.g., in their FAQ). They may list the EMF emission levels of various cooktops, or maybe you can get this information from the manufacturers (Bosch, E'lux, etc.).

Obtain the full study. You should be able to find it at a university library near you, by buying a PDF electronic version from Wiley, or by requesting a reprint (free) from the lead author in Switzerland (the article abstract gives that email). The article text should list the 16 specific models tested (they may or may not be currently available).

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:34PM
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Supplementary material for this study is in the link below. This gives two figures and six tables, but you'll need to read the article to learn more (such as models tested, etc.).

Here is a link that might be useful: Supplementary material for Christ et al., study

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:45PM
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Forgive me for my cynicism, but if you read the "About Us" section at the Wake Up World website that you link to, and also the About Us section of Powerwatch, from where Wake Up World got their original article, they do seem to be - how can I express this gently? - conspiracy theorists, implying there is a corporate and government conspiracy about this, and many other things. The Wake Up World people insist there was a conspiracy over Bin Laden's death. And the alleged use of electromagnetic pulses used against anti-nuclear protesters at RAF Greenham Common (a US air base in the UK, at the time). They clearly have an agenda.

Take it with a very large pinch of salt and get information from more rational sources.

Also intrigued why you would think US standards would be more stringent than EU ones? This is often not the case, but the reverse . . .

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 3:39PM
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As Kas said, it's really hard to know what to make of that abstract without reading the whole paper Here are some things I can think of that might help:

- Dig through the literature for studies on simiiar topics done by different research groups. If you can find a good review article, even better. PubMed is great for this. I did a bunch of reading in urology journals after I got kidney stones 6 weeks ago (no fun; don't get them). It wasn't too hard to find articles accessible to a layperson with a science background like me.

- Search for the standards they reference: International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection standards 1998, and International Electrotechnical Commission (standard IEC 62233). I'd like to know where the magnetic field thresholds in those standards came from. Opinions on the effects of non-ionizing radiation / EM fields are all over the map, as evidenced by all the "cell phones will give you brain cancer" hysteria of the last decade. I'd wan to know if these groups have any institutional biases.

- Dig through PubMed or Google Scholar to see what else these authors have written (especially the first author) and how well cited they are by people outside their circle.

Side note: I wish for-pay scientific journals would hurry up and die so that everyone would publish in online peer-reviewed journals like PLoS. Online publishing should be required for government-funded research.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 6:34PM
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Peer reviewed journals pay the reviewers, so someone would have to subsidize them for them to be free. Researchers in certain fields can use peer-exposed arXiv for free. I notice quantitative biology is included.


Here is a link that might be useful: arXiv

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:36AM
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I'd urge caution and check out the agenda of the publisher before becoming unduly concerned about this issue. There are plenty of other VERY common exposure risks in a kitchen to worry about first.

Here is a link that might be useful: DiHydrogen Monoxide

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 12:21PM
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thank you for the different perspectives, appreciate it!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 12:35PM
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GreenDesigns - DHMO, LOL! Loved that! I laughed just from the title of the link. I admit, I am an habitual user of hydrogen hydroxide, as I prefer to call it, and so is my whole family.

Not that there aren't any real dangers out there (eg,arsenic in 19th century green wallpaper), but "use your common sense," as the DHMO site suggests, does seem to be good advice.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 12:58PM
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The "Foundation for Research on Information Technologies in Society" seems to have very little web presence. A search turned up a listing for a founder, who has concerns about EMR, and very little other information.

My initial take on this "study" is that this is done by a special interest group that provides peer-review services for those with whose views it agrees. I've seen similar things from insurance companies doing the same thing for head injuries and malingering and publishing seemingly scientific articles supposedly verifying the conclusions. (Did you know that one of the signs of malingering after getting a head injury is wearing eyeglasses?)

The "induction" study says it is referencing the standards published by the "International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)." Sounds like some sort of EU standards setting body, doesn't it? ICNIRP turns out to be another private foundation which says it's members attend scientific meeting and consult with each other on the dangers of non-ionizing radiation. Hmmmmmmm. This seems to be great authority for paranoids and contrarians. but rather suspect to the rest of us.

This is not to say the increasing prevalance of EMR and wireless devices shouldn't be of concern. It should. This is not to say that the referenced study might not be legit. But, when I do not find other articles and the internet searches turn up self-referencing among private foundations that seem to be posing as official organizations, and I read things in the abstract about using mathematical models to measure exposure above some privately derived standards . . . well, I reach for the salt.

Oh, and for those of you for whom chemistry is "chem-mystery," DHMO is a molecule composed of two hydrogen (H) atoms and one oxygen (O) atom. Now, clap your hands to the sides of your face and say "OMG, now I get it."

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 6:40PM
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