Hybrid & Electric Cars: Electromagnetic Radiation Risks



Hybrid and electric cars may be cancer-causing as they emit extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic radiation (EMR) or magnetic fields. Recent studies of the levels of EMR emitted by these automobiles have claimed either that they pose a cancer risk for the vehicles’ occupants or they are safe.

Unfortunately, the little research conducted on this issue has been industry-funded by companies with vested interests on one side of the issue or the other which makes it difficult to know which studies are trustworthy.

Meanwhile, numerous peer-reviewed laboratory studies conducted over several decades have found biologic effects from very limited exposures to ELF EMR. These studies suggest that the EMR guidelines established by the self-appointed, International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) are inadequate to protect our health. Thus, even if EMR measurements do not exceed the ICNIRP guidelines, occupants of hybrid and electric automobiles may be at increased risk for cancer and other health problems.

Given that magnetic fields have been considered “possibly carcinogenic” in humans by the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization since 2001, the precautionary principle dictates that we should design consumer products to minimize consumers’ exposure to ELF EMR. This especially applies to hybrid and electric automobiles as drivers and passengers spend considerable amounts of time in these vehicles and health risks increase with the duration of exposure.

In January, 2014, SINTEF, the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia, proposed manufacturing design guidelines that could reduce the magnetic fields in electric vehicles (see below).  All automobile manufacturers should follow these guidelines to ensure their customers’ safety.

The public should demand that governments adequately fund high-quality research on the health effects of electromagnetic radiation that is independent of industry to eliminate any potential conflicts of interest. In the U.S., a major national research and education initiative could be funded with as little as a 5 cents a month fee on mobile phone subscribers.

Following are summaries and links to several studies and news articles on this topic.

Note that many experts believe the ICNIRP guidelines for maximum general public exposure to electromagnetic fields do not adequately protect the public from health risks.

Electric and magnetic fields <100 KHz in electric and gasoline-powered vehicles

Tell RA, Kavet R. Electric and magnetic fields <100 KHz in electric and gasoline-powered vehicles. Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2016 Dec;172(4):541-546.

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AbstractMeasurements were conducted to investigate electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) from 120 Hz to 10 kHz and 1.2 to 100 kHz in 9 electric or hybrid vehicles and 4 gasoline vehicles, all while being driven. The range of fields in the electric vehicles enclosed the range observed in the gasoline vehicles. Mean magnetic fields ranged from nominally 0.6 to 3.5 µT for electric/hybrids depending on the measurement band compared with nominally 0.4 to 0.6 µT for gasoline vehicles. Mean values of electric fields ranged from nominally 2 to 3 V m-1 for electric/hybrid vehicles depending on the band, compared with 0.9 to 3 V m-1 for gasoline vehicles. In all cases, the fields were well within published exposure limits for the general population. The measurements were performed with Narda model EHP-50C/EHP-50D EMF analysers that revealed the presence of spurious signals in the EHP-50C unit, which were resolved with the EHP-50D model.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26769905Passenger Exposure to Magnetic Fields due to the Batteries of an Electric Vehicle

Pablo Moreno-Torres Concha; Pablo Velez; Marcos Lafoz; Jaime R. Arribas. Passenger Exposure to Magnetic Fields due to the Batteries of an Electric Vehicle. IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology. 65(6):4564-4571. Jun 2016.

AbstractIn electric vehicles, passengers sit very close to an electric system of significant power. The high currents achieved in these vehicles mean that the passengers could be exposed to significant magnetic fields (MFs). One of the electric devices present in the power train are the batteries. In this paper, a methodology to evaluate the MF created by these batteries is presented. First, the MF generated by a single battery is analyzed using finite-elements simulations. Results are compared with laboratory measurements, which are taken from a real battery, to validate the model. After this, the MF created by a complete battery pack is estimated, and results are discussed.ConclusionPassengers inside an EV could be exposed to MFs of considerable strength when compared with conventional vehicles or to other daily exposures (at home, in the office, in the street, etc.). In this paper, the MF created by the batteries of a particular electric car is evaluated from the human health point of view by means of finite-elements simulations, measurements, and a simple analytical approximation, obtaining an upper bound for the estimated MF generated by a given battery pack. These results have been compared with ICNIRP’s recommendations concerning exposure limitation to low-frequency MFs, finding that the field generated by this particular battery pack should be below ICNIRP’s field reference levels, and conclusions concerning the influence of the switching frequency have been drawn. Finally, some discussion regarding other field sources within the vehicle and different vehicles designs has been presented. Due to the wide variety of both available EVs and battery stacks configurations, it is recommended that each vehicle model should be individually assessed regarding MF exposure.

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