The electromagnetic radiation produced by the electric motors driving the wheels of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars won’t harm you.
That’s the official verdict of an EU-funded seven-country study into the effects of close proximity to powerful electric motors and electric vehicles in general, led by SINTEF, an independent research organization based in Trondheim, Norway.
Prompted by anecdotal evidence and fear mongering that occupants of electric and hybrid cars were being subjected to dangerous levels of electromagnetic radiation from their car’s electric motor and power systems — supposedly causing nausea, drowsiness, headaches and even childhood cancer — the team of researchers examined the amount of radiation produced by seven different electric vehicles, two gasoline-powered cars, and even a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.
Using a test-dummy with sensors located in its head, chest and feet, the physicists recorded the electromagnetic radiation at various locations within each car, comparing the radiation with that recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
Their findings prove what Consumer Reports did almost four years ago: cars fitted with large electric motors, be they hybrids, full-electric or hydrogen, pose no real health risk from electromagnetic radiation to drivers or occupants.
In analyizing the data collected during its study, the team at SINTEF concluded that electric cars exposed passengers to less than 2 percent of the ICNIRP’s limit at head height, while results from all conditions showed that the exposure was less than 20 percent of ICNIRP limits at floor level, where radiation levels were the highest.
For gasoline-powered vehicles, the researchers found non-ionized ration levels hovered at around 10 percent of ICNIRP limits.
“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,” Kari Schjølberg-Henriksen, one of the SINTEF physicist taking part in the study said.
“There is absolutely no cause for concern. The difference between this research and similar earlier work is that we have taken into account what contributes to the magnetic fields. The rotation of the wheels themselves generates considerable magnetic fields, irrespective of vehicle type,” Schjølberg-Henriksen continued.
Interestingly, the team went on to draft design guidelines for automakers seeking to reduce non-ionizing radiation produced by electric cars even further, although we should note that it isn’t really necessary given the levels discovered in the test.
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