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Is Induction Cooking Safe? EMFs Explained

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Induction stoves emit electromagnetic fields, as do other electrical appliances in your home. Induction cooktop safety is a topic discussed within the scientific community as well as among consumers. The main concern is whether possible electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure from an induction stove has adverse health consequences.  

The results of research studies we read and our understanding of electromagnetic fields (EMFs), reinforces our belief that induction cooking is safe as long as the unit is used correctly. There are ways to cook on induction stoves to limit EMF exposure, thereby reducing potential risk.  

We are not physicians or physicists. However, based on scientific concepts and the results of professional scientific research investigations related to induction cooking, we did not find definitive evidence EMFs emitted by induction cooktops are dangerous.

What is an Induction Stovetop?

While gas stoves use a flame to produce heat and electric stoves have heating elements, an induction cooktop uses electromagnetism to heat the food. The iron or magnetized steel cooking vessel is turned into the cooker as heat from the pan flows into the contents of the pan.

Induction hobs are easy to clean, energy-efficient, nonpolluting, safe, and cook food quickly. If you are curious as to how to cook on an induction cooktop click here for the steps.

Induction Cooktop Safety Factors  

  • Possible EMF emissions
  • There is no open flame and little residual heat after you’ve turned the unit off, which reduces the risk of fire and burns.
  • There is no risk of gas leakage; fume inhalation and induction cooktops are nonpolluting.
  • Induction hobs have many built-in safety features such as automatic shutoff, overheating protection, high and low voltage protection, and a child safety lock preventing setting changes.
  • There are research studies that analyzed the effect of induction cooktops on implanted cardiac devices. The concern is the effect of stray magnetic fields generated by the induction hob and possible leakage current on unipolar cardiac pacemakers. Therefore, if you have an implanted cardiac device, we strongly suggest consulting with your cardiologist before using an induction cooktop.  

The research studies and the science, coupled with the correct use of your induction stove, lead us to believe overall, induction cooking is safe.

To help you make an informed decision about whether you think induction stoves are safe, we present information to assist you in making that choice. This includes an explanation of electromagnetic fields (EMF), the types of electromagnetic radiation (EMR), and the electromagnetic spectrum. We also provide the positions of health agencies as they relate to radiofrequency radiation exposure since induction stoves fall in this region of the electromagnetic spectrum are also presented.

Before we delve into these concepts, we’ll briefly discuss what pots and pans to use on an induction cooktops and how induction cooking works.

Induction Cooktops Need Induction Compatible Cookware

The base material of the pot or pan has to attract a magnet for it to work on an induction cooktop.

The materials work with induction cooktops: carbon steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, magnetized stainless steel, and graniteware. However, cast iron and magnetized stainless steel work the best. Three materials that are not induction ready are pure copper, pure aluminum, and glass. There are many induction cookware sets available.

Although we do not recommend this alternative, an interface disc can be used with cookware that is not induction compatible. The converter is place between the cookware and the cooktop. However, this not only reduces the efficiency of the cooktop and the disc gets very hot which could damage your cooktop.

The term “electromagnetic induction” is often referred to as “induction.” Electromagnetic induction is the process of generating current in a conductor as it moves through a magnetic field. 

diagram explaining how induction cooking heat works

How Does Induction Cooking Work?

The following is an explanation of how an induction stove heats food.

  • A coil (usually copper) is underneath the ceramic/glass surface of the induction cooktop. A medium-frequency alternating electric current (20-100 kHz) flows through this coil.
  • This creates a magnetic field (with the same frequency) that passes through the ceramic/glass surface of the cooktop.
  • When a cooking vessel containing a ferromagnetic material such as iron or magnetic steel is placed on the cooking zone (above the coil), the changing magnetic field produced by the cooktop goes through the pan’s metal. 
  • The magnetic field creates a circular current, called an “eddy current,” in the base of the pan. This principle is called induction.
  • As the eddy current swirls around inside the metal pan, it dissipates its energy. 
  • The metal pan gets hot and heats its contents by heat conduction and convection.

Electromagnetic Field Concerns

Two events spurred scientific research into the effects of electromagnetic field exposure.

The first was the publication of a study in 1979 by Nancy Wertheimer, an epidemiologist, and Ed Leeper, a physicist. Their results suggested an association between residential exposure to extremely-low-frequency magnetic fields (ELF-EMF) and childhood cancer.

Over the ensuing decades, the research into the association between childhood leukemia risk and magnetic fields increased substantially.

A comprehensive report was published in the British Journal of Cancer in 2018 by Aryana Amoon et al. Data from 11 studies was analyzed to assess the association of childhood leukemia risk and magnetic fields with distance. They also evaluated whether the link was due to magnetic fields or other factors associated with distance from lines.

They concluded: “There was no material association between childhood leukemia and distance to nearest overhead power line of any voltage.”

As research and public interest in EMF exposure by power lines continued, another event triggered a new research area. On January 21, 1993,  David Reynard appeared on “Larry King Live” and declared cell phone use caused the brain tumor that killed his wife. He announced he was suing the cell phone manufacturer and the service provider.

This declaration set in motion research investigations into a possible link between cell phone use and cancer. Scientists, universities, government agencies, and private profit and non-profit organizations continue to research this issue.

American Cancer Society (June 2020)

 “In summary, studies of people published so far have not established a clear link between cell phone use and the development of tumors.”

The ACS acknowledges the studies have limitations and should be continued to look at the possible risk of cell phone use, especially use by children and those who have used them over a long period of time. 

Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)

Electromagnetic fields are a combination of invisible electric and magnetic fields of force.

They are thought of as one object because electric and magnetic fields create each other in a cyclical process.  

According to NASA:

“Charged particles—such as electrons and protons—create electromagnetic fields when they move, and these fields transport the type of energy we call electromagnetic radiation or light.”

Sources of Electromagnetic Fields

Natural and human sources generate electromagnetic fields. They exist everywhere in the environment, whether at home, school, workplace, or business. There is more concern among the general public about human-made EMFs than about naturally occurring EMFs.

The earth’s magnetic field and the electric fields produced in the atmosphere during lightning storms are two examples of natural sources of EMF.

Human-made sources of EMFs are generated mainly through the use of electricity. The most common examples are the appliances in our home, such as televisions, refrigerators, microwave ovens, induction stoves, and vacuum cleaners. Mobile phones, laptop computers, wi-fi modems, radios, power plants, power lines, and diagnostic X-rays are other examples of equipment that generate an electromagnetic field.

Categories of EMFs

To answer the question "Is induction cooking safe", a discussion about electromagnetic fields is necessary.

Electromagnetic fields can be broadly divided into two categories: low-to-mid-frequency EMF and high-frequency EMF. 

Low- to-mid-frequency EMF includes magnetic fields from electrical power lines and appliances, radio waves, and microwaves. These EMFs are in the non-ionizing radiation section of the electromagnetic spectrum. They do not change cell structure or damage DNA.

High-frequency EMFs include high-energy ultraviolet rays, X-rays, and gamma rays. These are in the ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum. They can damage DNA and can change cell structure.

Electromagnetic Waves

Radios, microwave ovens, and x-rays are examples of devices that use electromagnetic waves. They differ in terms of wavelength, with some waves being shorter or longer than others.

Electromagnetic waves are an invisible form of energy that forms when an electric field (shown in red) couples with a magnetic field (shown in blue). They transfer energy from one place to another and travels through the air, solid materials, and space at the speed of light. 

Electric and Magnetic Fields and Electromagnetic Waves

Electromagnetic Spectrum (ES)

Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is energy that is propagated across space or through materials in the form of electromagnetic waves. EMR is typically described in terms of its frequency, wavelength, or energy level. The energy of the radiation depends on the wavelength. In general, the larger the wavelength, the lower the energy of the radiation.

Electromagnetic radiation spans a large range of wavelengths and frequencies. This range is known as the electromagnetic spectrum.  

The ES is typically divided into seven regions in order of decreasing wavelength and increasing energy and frequency. The types of electromagnetic radiation are radio waves, microwaves, infrared waves, visible light, ultraviolet light, X-rays, and gamma rays. 

Electromagnetic Spectrum


Wavelength and Frequency  

Wavelength is the distance between the highpoint of one wave and the highpoint of the adjacent wave and is commonly written in nanometers.

As you can see in the image above, some forms of electromagnetic radiation have shorter wavelengths, such as X-ray and gamma rays. In contrast, others have longer wavelengths, such as radio waves and microwaves.

Waves with shorter wavelengths have more energy than waves with longer wavelengths.

short and long wavelengths

Frequency describes the number of waves that pass a certain point in a given amount of time.  

This is usually measured as the number of wavelength cycles that pass per second. The unit for this measurement is Hertz (Hz).

The table below shows the relationship between wavelength, frequency, and energy.

Wavelength

Distance

Frequency

Energy

Example

Longer

wavelengths

Lower

Less

Low-energy infrared and radio waves

Shorter wavelengths

Higher

Greater

X-rays and gamma rays

Ionizing Vs. Non-ionizing Radiation

Ionization is the ejection of one or more electrons from an electrically neutral atom or molecule to form a charged ion(s). This is one of the primary ways radiation, such as charged particles and X-rays, transfers its energy to matter.  

Radiation is a form of heat transfer. This kind of transfer describes the way energetic particles or waves move across space and through matter. The types of radiation are differentiated by separating them into two categories: ionizing and non-ionizing radiation.

The electromagnetic spectrum diagram with frequencies, waves and examples

Ionizing Radiation

Ionizing radiation can pass through many materials including, air, water, and living tissue.

When ionizing radiation passes through a material, it deposits enough energy to eject electrons from atoms. This action disrupts molecular bonds. In living organisms, this disruption can damage cells and DNA.

X-rays and gamma rays are examples of ionizing radiation. X-rays can induce DNA damage in normal human cells. 

Gamma rays can damage biological tissue, kill cells, or disrupt cell reproduction. Cancer can be the result of cell reproduction disruption.

An example of the health hazards of ionizing radiation is the use of a tanning bed. Tanning beds radiate UVA rays, which penetrate the skin more deeply and damage collagen. Studies of tanning bed dangers  have linked tanning bed use to an increased risk of all forms of skin cancers.

Although ionizing radiation can be harmful, there are beneficial uses for it as long as it is used correctly. For example, it is used to produce x-ray images for a diagnosis, kill cancer cells in radiation therapy, and sterilize medical equipment.

Non-ionizing Radiation

Non-ionizing radiation does not have enough energy to eject electrons from atoms or break chemical bonds. It does not change cell structure or damage DNA.

It is important to note that exposure to intense, direct amounts of non-ionizing radiation may damage tissue due to heat.

The boundary between ionizing and non-ionizing radiation occurs in the ultraviolet part of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Radio Frequency (RF) Region of Electromagnetic Spectrum

Since induction cooking units work by generating a radio frequency (RF) magnetic field for heating purposes, we will discuss this region of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The longest wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum are in the radio wave region.

According to NASA, the range of the radio spectrum is considered to be 3 kilohertz up to 300 gigahertz.

According to Sato et al., persons who use induction heating cookers are exposed to some IF-EMFs (20–90 kHz). Induction cooktops are well within the range of the radio wave region of the electromagnetic spectrum. 

The radio wave region is in the non-ionizing section of the electromagnetic spectrum and has the lowest frequencies of any type of EM radiation.

Non-ionizing radiation does not cause DNA damage or alter cell structure.

different types of electromagnetic radiation by their wavelengths. In order of increasing frequency and decreasing wavelength

The table below shows the frequency, wavelength, and energy of ionizing and non-ionizing radiation and examples of each.

Type of ionization

Frequency

Wavelength

Energy

Example

Ionizing

Higher

Short

High


X-rays, gamma rays

Non-ionizing

Lower

Long

Low

Radio waves, Microwave, infrared

Induction stoves are in the region of radio waves. As you can see from the above table, radio waves are non-ionizing radiation. As previously discussed, non-ionizing radiation does not damage the DNA or cell structure.

What Scientific Organizations and Institutions Say  About Non-ionizing Radiation

Center for Disease Control and Protection 

“Exposure to intense, direct amounts of non-ionizing radiation may result in damage to tissue due to heat. This is not common and mainly of concern in the workplace for those who work on large sources of non-ionizing radiation devices and instruments.” (Reviewed December 7, 2015)

John’s Hopkins All-Children’s Hospital

"Although non-ionizing radiation can be harmful in very high doses, this type of radiation cannot change the molecular chemistry of a person or thing."

NIH- National Cancer Institute

"No mechanism by which ELF-EMFs or radiofrequency radiation could cause cancer has been identified."

National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet 

“No mechanism by which ELF-EMFs or radiofrequency radiation could cause cancer has been identified. Unlike high-energy (ionizing) radiation, EMFs in the non-ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum cannot damage DNA or cells directly.” (Updated January 3, 2019)

Food and Drug Administration

"Scientific consensus shows that non-ionizing radiation is not a carcinogen and, at or below the radio frequency exposure limits set by the FCC, non-ionizing radiation has not been shown to cause any harm to people."


US Food and Drug Administration: (February, 2020).

Review of Published Literature between 2008 and 2018 of Relevance to Radiofrequency Radiation and Cancer.

“In summary, the epidemiological data published between January 1, 2008 to May 8, 2018, continue to support the FDA’s findings that there is no quantifiable causal link between RFR exposure and tumor formation.”

“Further, existing epidemiologic evidence is insufficient to suggest that use of cell phones can be considered as an independent etiological factor capable of influencing the incidence of intracranial and some other tumors in the general population.”

Induction Stove EMF Emissions

Stray Fields

A stray field is a magnetic field not captured by the induction in the pan. Stray fields are most likely to occur when the cooking vessel does not cover the cooking zone and/or is not centered on the zone or if the pan is not flat.

If they are not captured, stronger induction stove emf may also occur around it. These stray fields could lead to electrical currents running through the body of the person standing in front of the hob. 

Correct use of the induction stove can reduce stray fields, so it can be used more safely. It is important to remember that the strength of a magnetic field decreases dramatically with increasing distance from the source. We discuss how to reduce EMF exposure risk in the next section.

Leakage currents 

Electric and magnetic fields can induce electrical currents in the human body. If a person touches the pan, a small current can flow through that person’s body. However, the current has to be above a specific value to stimulate the central nervous system.

How to Reduce the Risk of EMR Exposure from Induction Cooktops

The amount of stray magnetic field emission from induction cooktops can be reduced, and therefore increasing induction cooking safety, if the following actions are practiced when cooking.

  • Examine the pan and make sure the base is flat.
  • Place the pan on the cooking zone and then switch on the induction cooktop.
  • Cover the cooking zone entirely and ensure it is centered.
  • If you have an induction stove and use one pan, use the rear cooking zones since magnetic field strength decreases as distance increases.
  • Avoid using metal utensils.

These practices have been shown in research studies to limit induction cooking health hazards.

Induction Cooktop Safety Features

EMF emission is not the only factor to consider when evaluating induction cooktop safety.

The common kitchen hazards of fire and burns are greatly reduced when induction cooktops are used. The cooking surface of induction stoves and cooktops are cool when the unit is switched on. 

The area that gets the hottest when an induction stove is used is where the pan was placed. The ceramic-plate is heated to a small extent as some (a very small amount) of heat is transferred from the pan to the cooking surface. If you turn the cooktop on without a pot on it, the cook top won’t get hot.

When the induction burner is turned off, it only takes a short time for it and the cookware to cool down, thus reducing the risk of burning one's hand or arm. When using an induction stove, the risks of fire and burns are substantially reduced as are gas leakage or fume inhalation.

Here are some of the common induction cooker safety features offered on most models.

Child safety lock:  A feature that is welcomed by parents and pet owners is what is often called a "child lock."  This lock prevents settings from being changed. Generally, the power button has to be pressed for 3 seconds before the unit will operate and of course an induction friendly pan is on the cooking zone. The unit can still be turned off.

Boil alert: This is typically found on the more expensive induction stoves. This feature reduces the heat level when the unit detects vibrations from hot liquids. The induction hob beeps to alert the cook when the liquid is at the boiling point.

Overheating protection: If the cooking surface reaches a high temperature (varies according to unit) the device will turn off.

Countdown timer: The unit shuts down after the specified time.

Automatic pan detection system:  The unit shuts down if no cookware has been detected for a period of time (generally a minute) or if the cookware placed on the surface is not induction friendly.

Low and high voltage warning system: The unit will emit a tone and shut down.

Timer: Many induction cooktops automatically shut down after 2 or 3 hours, depending upon the model.

Is Induction Cooking Safe? Final Thoughts 

Induction cooking emf safety is a debated topic in research circles and on the internet. One question asked is "Do induction cooktops emit radiation."

Induction cooktops emit non-ionizing radiation. Non-ionizing radiation is not known to damage DNA or cell structure.

We did not find conclusive evidence EMFs emitted by induction cooktops pose a significant adverse health hazard.

If you have an implanted cardiac device, we strongly suggest consulting your cardiologist before buying or using an induction stove.

Yes, induction cooktops emit EMFs. However, there are ways to use one that limits both EMF exposure and the current flow into your body, reducing potential risk. Keeping a distance of 30 cm can reduce possible EMR exposure.

Stray EMFs can be reduced by using a cooking vessel that 1) covers the cooking zone, 2) has a flat base, and 3) is centered on the cooking zone. Another tip is to place the pot or pan on the cooking zone before turning on the induction stove. Lastly, be sure to avoid using metal utensils.

To counter the possibility of current flowing from the pan to your body, use a tea towel when touching the handle and avoid using metal utensils.

We are not physicians. We offer our opinion based on our review of scientific studies on the internet and the analysis of concepts related to electromagnetism.

If you are concerned about the potential dangers of induction cooking or are not convinced of its safety, many scientific papers have been written on this topic and are available on the internet. We listed the research studies we read in preparation for writing this article and the sources used in gathering data for this article.

Many websites explain the concepts of electromagnetic fields and electromagnetic radiation. This information can help you make a decision based on science.

Research Studies

Sato, Y., Kiyohara, K., Takehara, S., & Kojimahara, N. (2020). Ecological study on the penetration of induction heating cookers and birth outcomes in Japan. AIMS public health, 7(2), 336–343. https://doi.org/10.3934/publichealth.2020028

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7327398/

Aerts S, Calderon C, Valič B, Maslanyj M, Addison D, Mee T, Goiceanu C, Verloock L, Van den Bossche M, Gajšek P, Vermeulen R, Röösli M, Cardis E, Martens L, Joseph W. Measurements of intermediate-frequency electric and magnetic fields in households. Environ Res. 2017 Apr;154:160-170. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2017.01.001. Epub 2017 Jan 10. PMID: 28086101.

https://biblio.ugent.be/publication/8519431/file/8519433.pdf

Bullo M, Dughiero F, Sieni E. Analysis of Stray EM Fields Generated by Induction Cooktops.

IEEE Electromagnetic Compatibility Magazine, vol. 2, no. 2, pp. 49-58, Second Quarter 2013, doi: 10.1109/MEMC.2013.6550933.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260589468_Practical_papers_articles_and_application_notes

Christ A, Guldimann R, Buhlmann B, Zefferer M, Bakker J, van Rhoon G, and Kuster N. (2012) Exposure of the Human Body to Professional and Domestic Induction Cooktops Compared to the Basic Restrictions. Bioelectromagnetics. 33. 10.1002/bem.21739.

https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.1052.595&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Miyakoshi J, Horiuchi E, Nakahara T, Sakurai T. Magnetic fields generated by an induction heating (IH) cook top do not cause genotoxicity in vitro. Bioelectromagnetics. 2007 Oct;28(7):529-37. doi: 10.1002/bem.20334. PMID: 17492656.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17492656/

Kos B, Bliz V, Miklavci, D, Kotnik T, Gajsek P. Pre- and post-natal exposure of children to EMF generated by domestic induction cookers. Phys. Med. Biol. 56 6149. 2011.

http://www.inis.si/fileadmin/user_upload/INIS/publikacije/2011_08_30_Bor_PMB.pdf

Viellard C, Romann A, Lott U and Kuster Niels 2007 B-field exposure from induction cooking appliances IT’IS Report (Zurich: IT’IS Foundation)

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