Do Hybrid Vehicles Pose Health Hazard

According to a report in the New York Times, hybrid vehicles may pose a hidden health hazard. Scientists have known for a long time that prolonged exposure to strong magnetic fields can pose a health hazard to humans. Hybrid and electric vehicles are powered by electric motors, the control cables for which run very close to the driver and passengers in the vehicle.

Strong magnetic fields have been linked to an increased incidence of leukemia in children, as well as other effects. Some drivers have tested the strength of the magnetic field produced by their vehicles and have expressed concern. Honda and Toyota have both tested their vehicles and say that their internal test results show that there is no significant exposure to magnetic fields generated by the vehicles' motor or control apparatus. But some drivers are alarmed enough by the high EMF readings to purchase extra shielding for their vehicles, or to sell them.

Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) produced by vehicles isn't new. A Swedish magazine cited three Volvo models (powered by gasoline) that generated high EMF. Volvo claimed that the magazine used an inappropriately high standard in its tests.

Drivers have also reported anecdotal evidence that hybrids may be unhealthy. One driver in in the NY Times story reported that her blood pressure rose and she fell asleep at the wheel three times, something she'd never done before driving her hybrid Honda Civic.

There are no current safety standards for EMF exposure in vehicles, but according to Toyota, its own EMF readings on the Prius range between 50 Hz and 60 Hz, both inside and outside the vehicle. The company says that these figures are comparable to its gasoline-powered models, so the hybrid poses no significant danger in terms of EMF exposure.

Source: NY Times

Leave a Reply