/ Health, Home & Energy

Do induction hobs interfere with pacemakers?

More of us are deciding to buy induction hobs when replacing our old hob or cooker. But did you know that they could interfere with some pacemakers?

In our last survey, 15% of Which? members told us that they’d already embraced induction cooking.

And I expect that, when my current ceramic electric model reaches the end of its natural life, I’ll be going down this route too. Especially as you can now get a Best Buy induction hob for less than £250.

Induction hobs and pacemakers

However, a Which? member got in touch with us to share that they’d recently returned their newly purchased induction hob when they found out it could interfere with pacemakers.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) recommends – based on academic findings – that people with a pacemaker should get no closer than 60cm from an induction hob.

This is due to electromagnetic induction. Inside an induction hob is a coil of metal. When you turn on the power, an alternating current flows through it. This produces a magnetic field but no heat. Once you put a suitable pan on top, the magnetic field induces whirling electrical currents (eddy currents) inside the pan’s metallic structure. These currents transfer their energy, so the metal pan gets hot and heats up whatever’s inside it.

The electromagnetic field that’s generated may, according to the BHF, interfere with pacemaker settings. Academic evidence suggests a hob wouldn’t cause a catastrophic change to the pacemaker, but there are many types of pacemakers and not all are affected in the same way.

Advice on using induction hobs

Clearly it makes sense to ask when your pacemaker is fitted what advice the pacemaker manufacturer gives regarding the appliances we use in everyday life. Induction hob manufacturers usually also give advice about this in their instruction manuals.

Are you shopping for an induction hob? Were you aware of the BHF’s recommendations about not getting too close to them with pacemakers? Do you think induction hob manufacturers should flag this up more prominently?

Comments
Profile photo of wavechange
Member

The design of pacemakers has been improved over the years to make them less likely to be affected by interference. Induction hobs and mobile phones were more of a concern in the past, though it is still recommended to hold a mobile on the opposite side from the pacemaker.

Jane – The photo in your introduction is a ceramic hob rather than an induction hob.

Profile photo of Alex Toplis
Member

I have to take the blame for that one, Wavechange. I chose the image 🙁 What do you think of the new one? I have a gas cooker at home, so not too used to induction cooking.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Thanks Alex. 🙂

Electromagnetic radiation, whether from induction hobs, microwave ovens, mobile phones or LED lamps obeys the inverse square law, so the intensity falls off rapidly with increasing distance from the source. If you hold a portable radio close to an induction hob, you will probably pick up interference, which will decrease quickly as you move it away.

Member

I was told about not using Microwave oven and my Electric welders and Airport scanners,, but nothing about Hobs,
Anything else.?
I have activated security scanners in supermarkets.
Excuse the pun (It`s a minefield)

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Microwaves don’t seem to be a problem, Mike. There may have been a problem with earlier models or it might have been a cautious approach, just like the early warnings about mobile phones.

I don’t know whether or not modern airport security scanners pose a risk, since the time of exposure is short. The embarrassment of setting one off is enough reason to avoid them.

Electric welders are definitely a problem for those with pacemakers, so braise the steak rather than weld it. 🙂

Profile photo of Andrew Collins
Member

Hi Mike – anything that would emit an electromagnetic field could cause harm to those using a pacemaker.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Andrew – Modern ppacemakers are screened to avoid problems with electromagnetic radiation. The same applies to electronic equipment used in hospitals. I remember the warnings to turn off mobile phones, which have largely disappeared.

With some devices such as mobile phones it has been possible to decrease the electromagnetic radiation. Concerns about safety of phones, especially for children, have driven these improvements and while phones still emit radiation, our government no longer produces leaflets warning about the dangers. Those with pacemakers are advised to hold them on the opposite side of their body.

It is probably difficult to do much to reduce radiation from an induction hob, which depends on emission of electromagnetic radiation, apart from shutting off automatically when a pan is removed.

Close proximity to the source of radiation is the big problem, for example a mobile phone in a shirt pocket.

Member
Trevor young says:
27 March 2016

Hi I have been looking at this having lived with a pm for many yearss and just read a paper from Oxford university press, the smart money it seems is not to use the inductive jobs. I have just had a replacement pm from biotronic with no problems so far . The first one about 15 years ago was affected by interference but I would notice the difference in pacing behaviour and act on what was telling me. Lastly I have a pacemaker card that I show when needed so I don’t have to go through the scanners, usually just telling the guard is enough but at Paris airport they got annoyed that didn’t have the card with me on one occasion.
Hope this helps you discussion
Trev young

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
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I have had two induction cookers and both had the warning regarding pacemakers. I would think the retailer, and the patients advice notes would also cover the situation.

It is astonishing to see that pacemakers have become a very common procedure with over 40,000 fitted in 2012/13 and that in 2009 the 500,000th in the UK was fitted.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

If a warning is needed, the obvious place is to put a permanent notice on the induction hob, in the same way that ceramic hobs have a ‘Hob hot’ notice or warning light.

I suspect that the warning is based on earlier designs of pacemaker combined with precaution.

BHF advises keeping 15cm away from a microwave oven.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
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I am not a great fan of the proliferation of signs as I think that people start to screen out the visual clutter. It is noticeable in France how much less signage they seem to be able to get by with on roads, and at ruins, and at beauty spots.

I was wondering about the proliferation of nut allergy signage and found this excellent document:
https://www.sswahs.nsw.gov.au/rpa/allergy/resources/allergy/peanutallergy.pdf

Profile photo of GeorgeS
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It’s not just the pacemaker that can be affected by electromagnetic fields – leads from the pacemaker to the heart can also be affected. At first, leads were “unipolar”, having just one conductor and relying on body conductance to complete the electrical circuit from the heart back to the pacemaker. My pacemaker leads are bipolar, each with 2 conductors to provide both required elements of an electric circuit, less likely to be affected by electromagnetic fields than the earlier used unipolar leads. When pacemakers are replaced, usually towards the end of battery life, the replacement pacemaker may be connected to existing implanted leads. If these leads are unipolar, a replacement pacemaker won’t necessarily be as secure as might be perceived. I don’t know when/if the change from unipolar to bilpolar leads became general practice, nor whether a pacemaker designed for use with bipolar leads can be used with unipolar leads. Replacing pacemaker and leads is obviously less straightforward and higher risk than replacing just the pacemaker………

My pacemaker card (as did the card for my first pacemaker) shows makers’ names and serial numbers of my leads, using which I was able to do a web search and find that my 3 leads are bipolar.

My experience on trying to get information about the risk is not good. But if you think about it, pacemaker companies would need a number of pacemaker users to be willing to undergo tests that could only be described as hazardous to life! I expect that the pacemaker manufacturers do undertake tests – for example using pig bodies and some “sample electromagnetic fields” or even computer simulation based on such tests – to give some indication of the likely effects of electromagnetic fields (and whether their latest design under test would be an improvement on their current product range!). But understandably they would be unable to provide wholly reliable advice to health professionals and patients, in part due to the sheer impracticality of trying to test all types of electrical equipment that might conceivably create risk!

The best advice I had came from one of my consultants – avoid powerful electromagnetic fields, particularly from welding equipment (as mentioned by “wavechange”); if you are required to go through an airport or similar detection device, walk through briskly.

A daughter has an induction hob, which came with warnings about pacemakers, in particular about “unipolar pacemakers”. I treat it in the same way as all equipment that can generate powerful electromagnetic fields – keep what seems like a safe distance having regard to the inverse square law mentioned by “wavechange”. If I had unipolar leads I would never be near it when it was on (or likely to be switched on….). If I ever have to use it, it will be off for the short periods when moving pans, stirring, adding ingredients, etc; I’d switch it on and off and adjust heat levels at arms length; I’d keep clear while the cooking itself is going on. I wouldn’t buy one for our own kitchen…..

Please note that I am grateful for my life; if there are some drawbacks to having a pacemaker then I’m going to live with them, with a little care.

Finally, I am a bit surprised at the lack of depth in the Which? report on this – if I can spout on about leads as well as pacemakers, surely the Which? researchers should have picked this up – shoddy work, Which?

Profile photo of malcolm r
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As far as I recall from my involvement with EMC, the purpose of the standards and associated tests was to set limits on radiated and conducted radiation to promote Electromagnetic Compatibility. So it laid down limits on the emissions of devices, limits that a potentially affected device should be immune to. The responsibility lies with manufacturers of devices to ensure they neither emit excessive levels, nor respond adversely to stated levels, of electromagnetic radiation.

Profile photo of CDavies
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You obviously don’t have a pacemaker. Great if the “responsibility lies with manufacturers”. Try proving liability after you have snuffed it. I am completely dependent on mine but never needed one before I was admitted to hospital. Lets just say some surgeons are better than others and a blue laser helps.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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The point I was making was that devices have to be made and then type tested to show that they do not interfere with one another. Standards are their to ensure this is done properly. Without such standards it would be a disorganised free-for-all.

Profile photo of wavechange
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George – Thanks for this detailed post. That is a very good point about the leads being the Achilles heel when a modern pacemaker is exchanged for an older design.

My impression that the danger of electromagnetic fields may be overstated was because of I cannot find any heavily cited scientific paper or review drawing attention to hazards of household appliances.

Member
jeanie says:
14 February 2015

Visiting my sisters house “come and look at my new induction hob, see this is how it works-then feel it is not hot” close up inspection by me who has the pacemaker. It was only a few weeks later that I read about the need to avoid. I shall not use the hob when we do house swap! In this case a label on the hob would have been the only answer.

Profile photo of wavechange
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A simple technical solution would be to have a proximity sensor that would switch off the hob if a user approached. That feature could be deactivated if not needed.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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this link provides information about induction hobs, including advice re pacemakers.
http://www.bag.admin.ch/themen/strahlung/00053/00673/03156/index.html?lang=en

This site looks at other common devices and their effect, or not, on pacemakers.
https://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/PreventionTreatmentofArrhythmia/Devices-that-may-Interfere-with-Pacemakers_UCM_302013_Article.jsp

Profile photo of wavechange
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The first article mentions the pacemakers with unipolar leads, as discussed by George. It suggests keeping 5-10cm away from an induction hob, though I’m not sure whether this refers to a bipolar or unipolar pacemaker. It’s the most useful information I have seen so far and mentions the need for the correct size pan with a flat base and placed correctly so that the magnetic coupling is good. I believe some of this is common knowledge, though I’m less sure that users will be aware that using the wrong pan or one in poor condition could mean more electromagnetic radiation.

The other article, which I had seen, does not mention induction hobs.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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In old money, 5-10cm is 2″ to 4″. I would have thought that it is very unlikely the pacemaker would get that close at all easily. Would I be correct?

Profile photo of malcolm r
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I attached the second article for interest as an aside.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
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My latest induction hob [5 years old] actually has two panels and the current is only active under the diameter of the pan placed on it. So effectively I can place it anywhere inside the panel say 27cm via 50cm. It can also be split so I have 4 areas [2*2].

The reason I bought it was because of the difficulty in easily seeing the pans position on rings – and also the inflexibility of the ring system.

Profile photo of wavechange
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I have not paid much attention to induction hobs, but having a clear white ring against the dark background would help with correct positioning of pans.

Profile photo of Patrick Taylor
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wc – I have had experience of induction hobs and my first one did indeed have white rings and that is why I made the commnt.

Profile photo of Jane Darling
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Many thanks for everyone’s comments about this issue. It seems that manufacturer warnings about induction hobs and pacemakers are more widespread than I thought – which is good to hear.

Just a note regarding the role of a Which? Convo. The purpose of them is very much as a conversation starter, where we hope to learn about people’s experiences in various areas that affect the consumer.

They do not aim to be in-depth pieces of research. Sometimes we use them to offer advice to the consumer but in this case it’s your experiences we are after.

Do keep the responses coming and the conversation going. If it seems relevant to enough people then it could become something that the Which? editor agrees should be fully researched and featured in the magazine.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Jane, whilst I understand that Which? itself cannot research all these topics there is clearly a need in many of them for informed, expert responses to some of the issues raised by contributors. Cannot Which? approach those organisations or people to contribute? Apart from providing, hopefully, facts they might also give a view (from, say, manufacurers’ organisations, retailers, regulators) that could add balance to a conversation – even though we may not agree with their stance!

Profile photo of xopher
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Perhaps radiation emitting devices (and pacemakers?) should have a mark of approval, so that those affected are well informed.

Profile photo of wavechange
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That would make sense, but George has pointed out the complication of fitting a new pacemaker that is better protected to existing implanted leads, which could result in greater sensitivity to electromagnetic interference than a newly fitted pacemaker.

The cautious approach would be to avoid installing an induction hob if you have a pacemaker, but that does not help those who have bought one of these hobs and then have a pacemaker fitted.

I hope those who have pacemakers or are about to have one fitted get the best available advice.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Electromagnetic radiation emitting devices are controlled by European standards to ensure that they emit below specified levels at specified frequencies. Devices that are susceptible to interference from radiation should be designed to withstand this radiation. That is why it is called EMC – Electromagnetic compatibility. I would presume this applies to pacemakers and other medical equipment. The issue may be at what distance from the emitting device the “receiver” can be before it is affected. One source suggested induction hobs have no effect if 5-10cm away; that seems much nearer than I would expect a pacemaker to be. BHF says 60cm. Any medical equipment experts out there to advise?

Profile photo of Jane Darling
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I’ve contacted the British Heart Foundation and invited them to comment on the convo, so hopefully we’ll hear from them soon.

Profile photo of malcolm r
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Jane, Thank you.

Profile photo of wavechange
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That’s much appreciated Jane. On many of the Conversations we just have to talk amongst ourselves and that can lead to criticism, even if Which? is taking action behind the scenes.

It would be good to see some input from BHF, especially if this is backed up by scientific testing.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Hi Jane – Please could you ask someone from BHF to drop in and provide pacemaker users with reassurance.

Profile photo of Jane Darling
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Hi, I got in touch with the British Heart Foundation – here’s what Maureen Talbot, who is a Senior Cardiac Nurse at BHF says about pacemakers and induction hobs.

“Pacemakers have a protective outer casing to shield them from outside interference and a special circuit to detect and remove any unwanted electrical activity. We have received occasional anecdotal reports, however, from people who cite equipment such as airport and shop security systems, magnetic devices and welding tools as leading to transient symptoms such as palpitations, dizziness or feeling faint. This is due to the presence of an electromagnetic field interfering with their pacemaker settings. An induction hob generates an electromagnetic field so advice from manufacturers, if you have a pacemaker, is to keep a distance of two feet or 60cm to prevent this type of interference.”

So current advice seems to say that it’s ok for people with a pacemaker to be in the kitchen as long as they don’t venture closer than a couple of feet to the hob when it’s on. In practical terms, this means that anyone with a pacemaker shouldn’t cook using an induction hob.

Having warnings for pacemaker users in the instruction booklet seems a bit late – as people will have bought their hob/cooker by then. We will raise the issue of warnings – and where they are placed – with manufacturers as and when we meet with them.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Thanks very much for confirming the existing advice remains valid. As you say, it would be helpful for potential customers to know that there is little risk with modern pacemakers, and having this in the instruction booklet is too late.

Member
Elizabeth says:
3 June 2015

I have a pacemaker. It would be good if manufacturers pointed out the pacemaker issue with induction hobs at the beginning of their instruction booklets or better still on the display models. My daughter bought an induction hob and only found out on the very last page of the instruction booklet that there could be problem with those who have a pacemaker. I contacted my cardiologist who advised me to only ‘peep through the kitchen door when my daughter was cooking on her hob.’ (So I get out of most of the cooking when visiting)

Profile photo of SueMcIntyre
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I had a pacemaker fitted during open heart surgery back in 1969. The original lead is still in place and it s type seems to be unknown due to the passing of time.
I am having a new kitchen fitted and had ordered an induction hob, but am now having to have second thoughts, it seems no one will say categorically that they are safe, and will automatically advise against it to cover themselves.

Profile photo of TrishHolmes
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We are replacing our kitchen and I have been looking at an induction hob. I like the simplicity of its visual appearance and was just about to commit myself to making the purchase when the helpful salesperson mention pace – maker! I had no idea and even now I am unable to find any warnings in the manufacturers literature or specifications on the Internet. Although neither of us have pacemakers at the moment we are of an age that brings us closer to the possibility that it could be reality in the future.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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Trish- there is a highly technical answer which I will not patronise you with (unless fellow posters wish me to ) . I will only give you the conclusion of the Oxford University Press -quote- patients are at risk if the implant is unipolar and left-sided , if they stand as close as possible to the induction cooktop ,and if the pots are not concentric with the induction coil . Uniploar pacemaker systems can sense interference generated by leakage currents if the patient touches the pot for a long time . The most likely response to interference is switching to asynchronous interference mode. Patients with unipolar pacemakers are at risk only if they are not pace-maker dependent. Additional – using a large pot positioned off-centre is worse than a small pot on centre, if in contact with the pot , try to keep a distance of 35CM .

Member
John Thompson says:
19 February 2017

Hi, Very interesting debates – a year ago we went 10% induction cooking hobs and love them so quick, clean and smell free.

In 2 weeks I am to have a pacemaker fitted!! Any questions I should be asking at the hospital on the day? Is it likely that the knowledge above may change the design or manufacturer of the pacemeker to be used perhaps?

Is there not a protective jacket or similar to the X Ray protection kit worn by Dentists when doing X Rays, available?? Just a thought

Cheers

John

Member
Joy Francis says:
30 April 2017

Is it possible to buy an apron such as are used to protect radiographers? One of those in the kitchen might be handy.

Profile photo of John Ward
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If you search “radiation protection clothing” you will probably find what you are looking for. You might also find a lot of interesting things you had never thought of looking for.

Profile photo of DerekP
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Won’t those be lead lined, for protection against x-rays? (I know that, in the nuclear industry, similar items are worn for protection from gamma radiation.)

What sort of radiation hazard are you worried about in your kitchen?

Profile photo of DerekP
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A quick look on Wikipedia suggested that induction hobs use driver frequencies of about 24kHz. I think that’s roughly a tenth of the frequency used by BBC Radio 4 longwave. Also, microwave cookers, use a frequency around 2.45GHz.

If an induction hob, is well designed, and used with the correct type of metallic saucepan, the electromagnetic circuit between the two should be tightly coupled, and then not much energy will leak away into the space adjacent to the hob.

If there is a problem with safety certification for pacemaker users, it may be similar to the problem that leads to the use of mobile phones being banned on petrol station forecourts.

For example, it is hard to prove that mobiles phones cannot cause fires to start there. We know that mobiles are only low power transmitters, but we know that, at some power level, in a filling station, a radio transmitter becomes a fire hazard.

Similarly, it is much easier for pacemaker manufacturers to warn users about risks from induction cooking that to categorically qualify their products as being completely safe near to all induction cookers.

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I am not sure but I think the aprons used by clinic staff are not lined with lead but some other material that has a lead-equivalent protection value. I doubt they are necessary in a kitchen however. I think an induction hob is safer than a gas hob any day.

It is the excitation of a mobile phone when it is called or when a voice or text call is transmitted that gives rise to a hazard risk in a petrol station. The ignition of a minute amount of petrol vapour can create an exponential explosion and most forecourts probably have a layer of petrol vapour at ground level extending a considerable distance from the pumps. It is interesting that the ignition of a motor car engine does not incur a similar risk.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Here is a link to an article mentioned earlier by Duncan: https://academic.oup.com/europace/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/europace/eul014

Anyone with a pacemaker would be well advised not to stand close to it. Thanks to the inverse square law, the intensity of radiation becomes much less as the distance increases. For the same reason, I avoid standing over microwave ovens.

I’m not concerned if I see someone using a phone on a garage forecourt, though they are more likely to be distracted and spill petrol. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/4366337.stm

Profile photo of PatrickTaylor
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Rather an old piece of investigation dating from 2006. What might be interesting is in the intervening years has been the arrival of single and double freestanding table-top induction hobs which I suspect are direct from China at an asking price of say £60.

Very useful in a variety of ways given the light weight and portability. I have bought one [ my third induction hob over the last fifteen years] . We will buy an fixed induction hob for the new kitchen in due course.

The research and the article neither mention the type of pan. I am curious as to whether iron pans which work most effectively with induction create or lessen magnetic radiation in comparison to steel or other metals made for induction. Or in fact the metal is irrelevant.

Aside from the EMR case I would argue that if iron is more than twice times as effective at converting energy to heat then people should be told this as it would reduce electricity bills and reduce pollution.

The point about these cheap table-top induction hobs and testing for EMR I think is a concern as we know that not all Chinese goods are of good quality and safety. This particular freestanding one I bought in Lidl.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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BEKO- that well known domestic equipment manufacturer- Frequently asked questions -2017- Can I use an induction hob if I have a pacemaker -potential customer – Answer (from BEKO-) Unfortunately , the magnetic field created by induction hobs can cause harmful effects for those using pacemakers OR insulin pumps and should be avoided ( disclaimer ) . Now do you think a major domestic appliance company is going to risk losing business by posting a lie on its website ? Now the next question, has anybody ( including myself ) have the COMPETENCE to categorically state on the Which website that – quote – its 100 % SAFE to use a induction hob with any pacemaker ?? Taking into consideration that Which could be liable, legally, for a serious medical incident , if so I hope Which is insured for many £millions . I certainly disclaim myself from any pronouncement guaranteeing safety in the above circumstances. We are talking human life here not pots+pans.

Profile photo of DerekP
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“Now do you think a major domestic appliance company is going to risk losing business by posting a lie on its website ? ”

Short answer: Yes! It’s called “marketing & sales” for example, as in “our tumble dryers are safe so long as blah blah etc…”

If we cannot prove that (induction hobs/tumble dryers/mobile phones) are safe in particular circumstances, then it makes good sense to say that we should avoid those circumstances.

If we do that on a conservative basis, the issuing of any such warnings does not prove that there is actual danger, because it is better to be safe than to be sorry.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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DerekP I dont think of that as a “good marketing ploy ” it would make people think -dont buy BEKO because they dont guarantee their induction hobs are safe . Using reverse sales logic always back-fires on a company . Show/name me an American Home Domestic Product company saying -dont buy our products they could be dangerous ? Are you saying induction hobs are safe from interfering with any PaceMaker /Insulin Pump ? IF so please come out in print in Which and say it . I await with bated breath ?

Profile photo of DerekP
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Duncan,

I’d expect a well designed pacemaker to be designed so as to minimise its susceptibility to EMC and RFI interference issues.

I’d expect a well designed induction hob to minimise its potential for causing EMC and RFI problems.

But I wouldn’t expect any induction hob maker to waste money on certifying their hobs as safe to use near to any and all pacemakers. It would be an impossible task and, even if you did it, you would have to redo it every time someone else released any new model of pacemaker instead.

Instead, I’d just expect them to cover themselves from any liability by giving out the sort of safety advice you quoted from BEKO.

So, as I see it, the existence of such advice proves nothing.

Going back to businesses telling lies on the internet, we’ve also seen “our fine petrol and diesel cars meet all the required emission test regulations”.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Earlier in this discussion there is some information about improvement in pacemaker design that makes newer models less susceptible to interference, Derek.

All equipment that emits radio frequencies is covered by EMC standards. I hope that if products are compliant there is no danger to those with pacemakers when in normal use. However, having discovered that all the white goods in my home have flammable plastic in their casings I begin to wonder if standards are as adequate as we would like them to be.

Profile photo of duncan lucas
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DerekP if a company has confidence its product is 100 % safe from causing actual harm to life+limb to people with severe medical problems using an electro/mechanical device that can have its functional properties changed -even slightly , by an induced , radiated field of electrical energy then it should state so and every person on this planet who uses one f those medical devices can 100 % of the time use their products , in ANY situation . If BEKO state their technical and scientific staff tell them they cannot give 100 % assurance on this issue , then , to me, they are being honest, I will repeat, which of those induction hobs produced by manufacturers do those companies GUARANTEE to be 100 % safe , I will also repeat advertising goes straight out of the window when human life is involved so I will not change my opinion 1 MM and advise the public to get 100 % VERIFICATION in writing from ANY company/shop /business selling induction hobs that they are 100 % safe from interference to all pacemakers / insulin pumps . Using VW,s lie as a basis for disclaiming my point is not kosher , BEKO,s statement and theitr (VW) lie are not the same representation in given English grammar. You dont back up commercialism if it effects life and death only the armed forces put themselves on the line in times of war in this issue , the general public should never be put in that position just to defend capitalism. REpaitring + mbuilding high end audio equipment opened my eyes to the faults caused by even minute amounts of induced radiation on an audio/ RF etc frequency range , I have very sensitive electronic equipment able to pick up minute amounts of radiation and MEASURE it and , sorry to say, you dont get the truth from many companies.

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Is there not a responsibility placed on those who have pacemakers [and their next of kin and others who care for them] to be especially diligent when considering the use of any new appliance and ask pertinent questions before buying? I am sure they are aware of the advice to do so or alternatively they play safe and stick to existing technology that they know to be risk-free. As ever, it would have been helpful if this Conversation had been illuminated by some relevant statistics or evidence of actual examples and consequences.

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As I see it, this debate is just like tumble dryers over again.

Logically, if you cannot prove a proposition that does not always mean its opposite must be true. (In matter such as safety, the truth can be some where in-between.)

For example, we cannot prove that tumble dryers cannot start fires. We can, however, strive to minimise the risks and embargo the use of any dryers that fail to meet our expectations for good safe designs.

It justs seems obvious to me that, because there is no way that induction hob manufacturers will ever be able to prove that it is 100% safe to use these hobs if you use a pacemaker, they will issue safety warnings.

Similarly, pacemakers manufacturers will also issue safety warnings.

By issuing these warnings, manufacturers either eliminate (or at least significantly reduced) their liability if some sort of accident then occurs.

Much of the point of these safety warnings is to prevent accidents. In general, we don’t want to suffer an accident and only then start issuing such warnings. Where we can foresee potential accidents, even before one has occurred, we should do our best to avoid them.

Profile photo of wavechange
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The responsibility clearly lies with the companies making induction hobs and pacemakers, and those who maintain the relevant standards that are in place for our safety. On the other hand, it is reasonable to expect the user to use appropriate pans, avoid using a hob if it is damaged or malfunctioning and not to bend over the hob when it is in use.

If warnings are needed then there should be a notice on the hob. I doubt that most people present friends with the instruction manuals for appliances when they come to stay for a few days and get involved with cooking.

I agree with Derek that manufacturers should issue safety warnings for products where appropriate, and in my experience they generally do. However, the nature of the warnings and how they are presented should be standardised and not left for the manufacturers to devise.

Profile photo of DerekP
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“On the other hand, it is reasonable to expect the user to use appropriate pans, avoid using a hob if it is damaged or malfunctioning and not to bend over the hob when it is in use.”

As we’ve seen so many times before, the harder we all work to make things idiot proof, the harder nature works to make better idiots.

Profile photo of wavechange
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Absolutely, but we have moved on from the days when products were simple and dangers obvious.

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The problem may be that none of the people involved likes to/can/wants to look at the bigger picture. If they can’t /won’t then somebody else needs to. Hello Which?!

We chose not to buy an induction hob despite all its other wonderful attributes simply because one of the people likely to lean over it – even if just to check that it was turned off was a pacemaker wearer. Falls of any kind are to be avoided and dizziness can cause falls!

We know from experience that once you are used to something eg a pacemaker it is easy to forget that you have one.

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As I was idly looking at new induction hobs …..
” This hob has a maximum total output of 10.2kW. While that does mean you can’t run all five zones on boost at the same time, it remains enormously powerful. So much so that the workings of this hob are designed in two halves, both of which must be individually wired into your cooker mains supply circuit unless you have a three-phase supply. If that sentence made no sense at all, your friendly electrician will be able to advise you.
Read more at trustedreviews.com/hotpoint-cif-952-bxld-review#bB3Fj04icCpIEf2o.99 ”

That is an astonishing amount of power and if you add in a couple of ovens and sundry equipment all running for a massive Sunday roast it fair makes the eye water. Three phase supply! Coo.

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I agree that’s an awesome amount of power.

I think it is on a PAR with the rating of many domestic showers (10.5kW, 46A cables needed…)

On a 30A circuit, the maximum available power to a cooker will be about 6.9kW.

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If the output is 10.2kW, the input will be even higher because part of the energy goes into heating the components, hence the importance of adequate cooling of the electronics. The same applies with microwave ovens.

As with a traditional electric hob, it is unlikely that each of the heating zones will be using full power simultaneously. If they did, it would trip the circuit breaker.

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Electromagnet Compatibility standards are there to prevent one device interfering with another, I wonder whether they are adequate in the case of hobs and pacemakers. This has been raised earlier but have Which? asked the experts this question? BSI would be my first port of call.

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That’s my concern too, Malcolm. In other Conversations we have heard of radio interference caused by LED lamps despite the fact that the latter are supposed to comply with standards.

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Wavechange/malcolm as some seem not to believe my posts on the dangers of electromagnetic induction , radiated field eddy currents , I hope you both have read of the Indian government website on the subject ( one of may I can post ) that gives an detailed introduction to the subject on a purely technical level and the possible interference with body mass on individuals as well as comments on pacemakers . You Wavechange , being a Professor and malcolm being a Professional Engineer , will understand exactly where I am coming from its a PDF : http://www.keralaenergy.gov.in/emc_reports/induction%20Cooker_a%20brief%20investigation.pdf coloured photo is included . You will notice it is theoretically an AC transformer converted to DC then re-converted to a supersonic level of AC frequency ( above 20Khz ) so there care big losses in energy transference producing the eddy current radiation . I would also like to state I have 100,s -yes 100,s of addresses of the factories where they are advertised as -quote – cheap to buy ( for exporters ) . Guess where- thats right – the Land of Built to a Price , webpage after webpage . Do you honesty think they are all going to be made to a very high standard ?? if so then I despair of the engineering integrity of the people of this country. I know for a fact the quality of products from “there ” is enormous because I trialed out soldering stations ALL looking alike from the outside BUT most dangerous from the inside depending on the price paid. I have plenty of data if anybody challenges me. Human life first – NOT profit.

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Duncan thanks for that link.

I may be guilty of quoting it selectively but it does include the text “according to the World Health Authority, there is no compelling evidence of medium frequency magnetic fields having long term effects on health”.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any, but if there are, they must be hard to discern (as the link between smoking and cancer used to be).

One of my motorcycling buddies unfortunately died from cancer several years ago. As a self-employed motor mechanic, he had been an early adopter of GSM mobile phones and it was speculated at the time that the radiation fields from mobiles might cause cancer (and thus might have called his illness and death). I don’t think it has ever been proved that this cannot be the case, but these days we seem to be content that any such risks are either small or non-existent. Hence most folk are content to use mobile phones, without worrying about these risks.

Cooking on a hob is an inherently dangerous activity – no matter how you heat the hob.

Given the specific potential risks to pacemaker users, I think the BHF advice on induction hobs is sound and it also good that Which? recognises the need to qualify their endorsement of these products.

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I share Duncan’s concerns that we don’t know about manufacturing standards. When this Conversation was published I looked for peer reviewed scientific articles about the safety of induction hobs and found nothing. Checking again, I still find none.

As Derek points out, it’s very difficult to establish risks associated with new technologies. Despite considerable concern about the safety of mobile phones the biggest danger is probably distraction of users, especially when driving.

One of the weaknesses of standards is that they set minimum requirements and there is no incentive to exceed these. I don’t have an induction hob, but it would make sense to buy one that emitted less RF.

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“One of the weaknesses of standards is that they set minimum requirements and there is no incentive to exceed these”

This is the whole point of an agreed international safety standard – it sets the basic elements of safety that all products must comply with. Manufacturers are free to incorporate further features, and many do. This approach ensures that we don’t rely upon individual manufacturers simply using their own standards; I think we know the consequences if this were to happen. For decades this has provided consumer protection.

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I stand by what I said, Malcolm. The Euro NCAP tests provide safety ratings for cars and a good rating can be used to advertise a safer product. If induction hobs had safety ratings one of the main criteria would be the amount of electromagnetic radiation emitted. Hopefully manufacturers would compete to produce models with better scores.

Of course the testing must be done under standard conditions, not like the fuel economy tests for cars where the manufacturers are allowed to tape up the doors and over-inflate the tyres. 🙁

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There is a difference between safety standards, that give standards of safety that the relevant products must at least meet, and that cover many aspects of a products safety for example that must all be met, and a performance standard. Some – maybe many – products are covered by other standards as well as a safety standard. EMC deals with how products both respond to another product and how they affect another product, the objective being they do not inter-react in an unacceptable way. There is nothing to stop a manufacturer of an induction hob comparing the radiation emitted with the maximum allowed, if that is the point, providing measuring conditions are the same. That might allow a savvy customer to make a judgement, Whether a star rating, as NCAP, would help better, maybe. NCAP is underpinned, I believe, by minimum legal standards.

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I certainly understand the issue of interaction between products, which greatly complicates matters. Pacemakers can be well screened but the attached leads can pick up RF, so it’s vital to minimise the RF emissions by induction hobs, microwave ovens, etc.

I’m not aware of any manufacturers that compare RF emissions with standards, whereas NCAP ratings are well used by some car manufacturers.

I have attended courses where everyone who attended received a certificate, without any indication of actual performance in tasks. In contrast – when I was teaching – students received marks for every piece of work and each year were provided with an official transcript showing their performance in each module. Graduates can use this information in addition to their degree classification to help get decent jobs. Which? gives ratings to guide subscribers towards choosing better products.

I have trawled a few websites and do not see any reference to induction hobs exceeding current standards for RF emissions. That does not give me much confidence.

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Not my field but I presume this is one relevant document:
BS ISO 14117:2012. Active implantable medical devices. Electromagnetic compatibility. EMC test protocols for implantable cardiac pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators and cardiac resynchronization devices.
Published Date: 31/03/2013 Status: Current