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Published on May 12th, 2014 | by James Ayre


Little Difference In Magnetic-Field Exposure From EVs & Gasoline-Powered Cars, Research Finds

May 12th, 2014 by  

Much has been made of the idea that electric cars produce dangerous magnetic fields that can harm human health. But is there any truth to it? Or is it simply trash talk?

Well, now, new research from SINTEF is providing an answer to that question — EVs do produce magnetic fields, ones of comparable strength to those generated by gas and diesel powered cars, that is.

The EU-funded research project EM Safety is the most comprehensive study yet carried out to identify different sources of magnetic fields in electric cars. Image Credit: Trondheim Kommune

The EU-funded research project EM Safety is the most comprehensive study yet carried out to identify different sources of magnetic fields in electric cars.
Image Credit: Trondheim Kommune

So if you don’t have an issue driving a gas-powered car then you really shouldn’t have an issue driving an electric one, not for this reason anyways.

Worth noting is the fact that all of the magnetic fields in question — whether those created by the EVs, the petrol cars, the diesel cars, or the hydrogen cars — were of much lower intensity than the health limits outlined in current international standards.

“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,” states Kari Schjølberg-Henriksen, a physicist at SINTEF.

The press release from SINTEF provides more:

The intensity of magnetic fields in seven different electric cars, one hydrogen car and one petrol car were measured in order to ascertain whether they approach the recommended limiting values for human exposure. The measurements were carried out using real cars in a laboratory and during road tests.

The highest values in electric cars were measured near the floor, close to the battery itself and when starting the cars. In all cases, exposure to magnetic fields is lower than 20% of the limiting value recommended by the ICNIRP. Measurements taken at head-height are less than 2% of the same limiting value.

In the case of petrol and diesel powered cars, exposure was measured at around 10% of the limiting value. In other words, there is little difference between electric cars and petrol and diesel cars.

So, as stated before, the whole thing appears to have been at best paranoia, but probably far more likely, a smear job against EVs…

“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 explains.

While we’re on the topic of smear jobs against EVs, I can’t help but bring up the hilarious flier currently making its way onto Model S windshields in San Francisco. Talk about crazy.

Some of the funnier portions (imho) of the anti-EV flier mention Tesla’s “manipulations of Congress,” the idea that Tesla’s EVs have somehow “burned planes,” a question about why Tesla is responsible for “so many homicides,” and the (awesome) charge that Tesla created the EVs specifically for the purpose of tracking the whereabouts of rich people — with Google’s help of course. 


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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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