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  1. #1

    EMF Danger: Urban Legend, or Real Risk?

    Some time back, I looked into available research on electromagnetic fields in hybrid cars. Afterward, I wrote up a synopsis of what little reliable information I'd been able to find (with the help of a university librarian) on the subject.

    I was surprised, myself, at the utter lack of definitive answers. But the overwhelming gist of the studies available was that low levels of EMF have never been proven—either in epidemiological or laboratory studies—to cause harm to humans (or any other mammals). Yet there are still products claiming to protect against EMF being offered for sale. I poked some fun at them, hoping perhaps to prevent misinformed or gullible people from wasting their money on what amounts to snake oil.

    But that didn't go over so well with some.

    Reader cbd wrote in:
    "Regarding Maria McLean's somewhat snarky response to a reader's concern about EMFs from hybrid use: I own a hybrid, have had it for almost 2 years now. I have also been concerned about EMFs for several years, as to the fact that I felt that I have always been sensitive to higher energy situations. I own a gaussmeter and it is true that readings are much higher in the car (specifically near the floor boards and center panel); readings are up around the 20-30 mG range, which is 10 times the level that is considered safe by the UCS."

    Another reader, James, complained that "The EMF section of this site is very vague and does not directly respond to the issue of EMF in the vehicles but rather goes at great lengths to describe the EMFs that are present in everyday life. The latter part of the section even goes so far as to take a crack at persons concerned with such EMF's by recommending that they join the Amish Community….The situation with a hybrid vehicle is purely unique to that of the Magnetic fields one may be subject to in an apartment building. In the case of the hybrid vehicle, the passenger is literally inches away from the current-carrying conductors at prolonged periods of time. Using a Tesla-meter to measure the magnetic field is a very good step in determining the EMF. However I am very interested in seeing calcualations based on the many currents in the vehicle. Therefore, through some actual effort, it is possible to calculate the EMF's in this vehicle. I wont go so far as to suggest you should do your own research and calcution and find the truth. However, the author seems to speak on a subject of which he/she has limited knowledge and tries to convince the public that because "no one knows for sure," hybrids are safe! ... Please reconsider and treat such concerns with more respect!"

    On August 1, Ralf Trulli posted the following in another discussion:

    "Hybrid vehicles are apparentley being tested to see if the magnetic fields being created from the large battery pack and electric motor could be hazardous. Magnetic fields of the nature can cause tumors especially with prolonged exposure."

    So I'd like to open up a space for debate here. If you know of any peer-reviewed scientific proof of EMF harm, please come forward! Also, if you know of any studies at all done on vehicular EMF (besides the Vi Bilagare Volvo scare), particularly on hybrids, I'd love to hear about them.

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  3. #2

    EMF Danger: Urban Legend, or Real Risk?

    Help is at hand! You can get a "6-inch Tachyonized Silica Disk" for only $65 from http://www.tachyon-energy-products.c...rius-disks.htm.

    Of course you can get the same thing from the Grainger catalog or any hardware store for a few bucks - it's a grindstone!

    In My Humble Opinion, anybody who worries about the EMFs from their hybrid should either switch to a bicycle, or add another layer of aluminum foil to their hat*.

    *...which protects their brain from being taken over by the CIA's satellite...

  4. #3

    EMF Danger: Urban Legend, or Real Risk?

    Sorry - my response above was also "snarky" - here's a serious resource on EMF:

  5. #4

    EMF Danger: Urban Legend, or Real Risk?

    I'm wondering about the EMF levels in my Honda Civic. Is there a place I can go to research this? I'm planning to get pregnant within the next year. Should I be worried?

  6. #5

    EMF Danger: Urban Legend, or Real Risk?

    Basically the b-o-e (Back Of the Envelope) calculations for EMF danger relate to the energy and how much it takes to cause heating. By doing that you can "prove" that there is no way to get cell damage. This is the standard mode of thinking since microwaves were found to be dangerous.

    However, that's not the case. Cell phones and other RF sources are known to cause genetic damage at exposures well below kT (heating). Speculation has been that much of that research has been buried.

    However, I'd not worry about it with a hybrid. First worry about the high power electric sources that you put close to your head - wireless RF equipment.

    Out of prudence I would not live next to power lines.
    I also do not expose my kids to unnecessary fluoride, pesticides, herbicides and toxic, "ordinary" home cleaning products. I avoid processed foods and a meat and dairy diet that is correlated with ill health and environmental destroy (read Diet for a New America, The Food Revolution, Diet For a Small Planet).

    Cut 1/2 lb of meat out of your diet per year and save around 1,000 gal of water used to make that meat. Buy organic and local - don't support long distance trucking of foods that are not healthy (GMO'd ones or varieties designed to be picked early and shipped thousands of miles). Buy local, buy fresh and in season. Experience the weather by not living in a house that is 72F year round to boot! Live simply, live sustainabily!

  7. #6

    EMF Danger: Urban Legend, or Real Risk?


    Thank you so much for taking the time to reply and for the sound advice. You are absolutely right. I guess I should worry more about my cell and cordless phones. I love my Civic Hybrid but I have recently heard about the potential EMF dangers of it and since such cars have not been around long enough to show any long term effects I went into panic mode. I'm assuming the hybrid car makers think about these dangers and try to fix them in order to avoid any recalls of lawsuits. You would think, right?

  8. #7

    EMF Danger: Urban Legend, or Real Risk?

    I should add a few things.

    Lifestyle can make much more difference than many "green" purchases. For example people who say that all is well because they recycle, but they have missed the cruicial first step - REDUCE or even the 2nd step REUSE. Recycle is the last step when the first 2 fail.
    By using your car less, walking and using alternative transit methods (car pool, public transit, etc) you can make signif changes in how much pollution you create .

    I can't take the 1 tonne challenge as I don't create 1 tonne of pollution! We've got a gas guzzling Escort wagon that can barely get 40 mpg (Cdn) on the highway but we use it as little as possible. I'm hoping that within a few years they will start to make fuel efficient cars - hybrid or not - or that surburbia will die and that we'll get good public transit.
    Neighbours of ours have no car at all - they're from Holland and are used to that - but we'd find that to be too much of a sacrifice (toddler twins and 2 adults in a taxi anyone? - carseats??)

    Remember the recent hysteria about mercury in CF lamps? I'm old enough to have had lots of fun smashing TV CRT's and 4' fluorscent tubes - both are much more dangerous. These days the amount of mercury in fluorscent products has been dramatically decreased. Don't begin to ask me how we used to work with pesticides on the farm or the sort of physical work I used to do in construction. I'll pay for both of those the rest of my life.

    What I hate is that much of the environmental sutff is being EU driven! The USA in particular has lept forward - profits at the expense of human rights, pollution, environmental destruction and even a living wage. Canada is sadly being sucked into the hell-hole that the USA is becoming. Yet there is so much innovation over here - in addition to destruction, corporate greed and government that supports it.

    We find it disgusting. It's very very hard trying to find a place where we want to raise our kids as we don't want them to be saturated with consumeristic polluters who are destroying the earth - people whoes lives are filled with the false goals of greed and consumption. On my street I'd run out of fingers and toes counting the people poisioning our homes, air and drinking water with pesticides - being sprayed on perfectly healthy lawns - lawns that they don't care about except to give the appearance of perfection. Sadly the majority of them drive polluting trucks, monster vans SUV'ish things and that ilk.

    More and more I've found myself inline with Musleum friends who would never want to raise their family over here. It's a great place to work and visit - but the society itself is corrosive to the soul.

    In summary - life will kill - as will everything you do.
    Choose in moderation and as the book Future Shock pointed out - be a late adopter to new technologies after you see what effect they'll have!

  9. #8

    EMF Danger: Urban Legend, or Real Risk?

    For a fairly exhaustive list of articles about EMF radiation, mostly in cell phone technology, visit www.mybiopro.com/bradh. This site IS a marketing company and has products to protect people from the harmful stress effects of EMF, but the articles are factual and provide a great deal of helpful information.

  10. #9

    EMF Danger: Urban Legend, or Real Risk?

    Isn't there some kind of relatively-inexpensive "shielding" material that could be wrapped around the cables or batteries by the auto companies so that this becomes a moot issue and doesn't hinder greater interest in hybrids?

  11. #10

    EMF Danger: Urban Legend, or Real Risk?

    The magnetic fields in a hybrid are very low frequency, changing very slowly compared to things like power lines and cell phones. They are more like the fields around a permanent magnet and lots of people claim good health effects from permanent magnets. Maybe you will actually be healthier from driving a hybrid.
    I have worked in the area of electomagnetic compatibility of computers and have checked my Ford Escape Hybrid for electrical noise radiation. Nothing there of significance.
    In my opinion, you are exposing yourself to a much greater heath risk if you use a cell phone or live in a house with AC power wiring.

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