Not only have electric cars become a reality, but they have become increasingly more a part of everyday life. However, while the vehicles may be good for the planet, some people are worried their magnetic fields may not be safe in regards to the driver’s health.
Recently, a study conducted by seven countries has found evidence to suggest that electric cars do not generate electromagnetic fields any higher than the recommended dose. In fact, field intensity is well below the recommended value. The study is currently the most comprehensive ever carried out in this field.
SINTEF has led and participated in the research project, involving nine other European companies and research institutes.
“There is a good deal of public concern about exposure to magnetic fields. The subject crops up regularly in the media. With the number of electric-powered vehicles increasing, this project is very relevant,” says Kari Schjolberg-Henriksen, a physicist at SINTEF.
In order to determine whether they reach the recommended values for human exposure, the intensity of magnetic fields in seven different electric cars, one hydrogen car and one gasoline car were tested. The measurements were carried out using real cars in a laboratory and during road tests.
The highest values in the electric cars were measured near the floor, close to the battery itself and when starting the cars. In all cases, exposure to magnetic fields was lower than 20 percent of the limiting value recommended by the ICNIRP. Measurements taken at head-height are less than 2 percent of the same limiting value.
Exposure was measured at around 10 percent in the case of gasoline and diesel powered vehicles. This proves that there is little difference between electric cars and fuel burning cars.
Researchers claim that while there may not be cause for concern, the potential health effects shouldn’t be ignored.
“It would be a mistake to jump to conclusions about hybrid E.M.F. (Electromagnetic Field) dangers, as well as a mistake to outright dismiss the concern,” said Jim Kliesch, a senior engineer for the clean vehicles program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Additional research would improve our understanding of the issue.”
A lot of the discussion over high E.M.F. levels has come from hybrid owners who take their own readings. Field-strength detectors are widely available. A common model costs about $145 online. However, experts and automakers agree that it isn’t that simple for a person to get a reliable E.M.F. reading.
However, the concerns over high E.M.F. levels in hybrids don’t just come from inaccurate readings, there are also drivers who claim their hybrids are making them ill.
“Some members of the public have attributed a diffuse collection of symptoms to low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields at home,” according to the World Health Organisation.
“Reported symptoms include headaches, anxiety, suicide and depression, nausea, fatigue and loss of libido, sleep disorders, headaches, tiredness, concentration and memory problems.”