EMF Radiation, Teslas, and Other Electric Cars

Electric car sales increased by 40% in 2022 as governments and car manufacturers ramp up pressure on consumers to invest. 

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finances, by 2040, more than half of the global new-car purchases will be battery-powered. These futuristic machines are now integral to our urban landscape, and their presence is welcomed. 

However, there is possibly a threat to be aware of, as these vehicles require an immense quantity of electrical energy to function: EMF radiation. 

Here, we’ll investigate whether electric cars emit problematic quantities of electromagnetic radiation.

Understanding EMF Radiation

EMF radiation is emitted by all gadgets that rely on electricity, including phones, laptops, computers, and electric cars. 

EMF radiation primarily occupies the microwave and radio wave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, which means it’s non-ionising, unlike X-rays and gamma rays. Conventional wisdom suggested that EMF wasn’t harmful, but a raft of recent studies cast doubt on that. 

Electromagnetic spectrum

In fact, the WHO officially classified EMF radiation, such as that produced by phones, as a “possible carcinogen.” 

Here’s the thing: we spend a huge amount of time surrounded by electrical devices, particularly in the case of phones and other consumer electronics. If EMF radiation can harm us, which seems strongly likely, then our exposure is definitely significant enough to be a cause for concern. 

This isn’t pseudoscience or hearsay. Recently, 247 scientists representing some of the world’s top institutions signed an open letter requesting governments look deeper into the EMF issue, with many studies/evidence compiled on the EMF Appeal website

What’s The Relevance of Electric Cars?

EMF frequencies are inherent to electrical devices. For example, electric cars use incredibly powerful batteries, circuity and motors, not to mention GPS and other communication devices. 

While unseen, the consequences of EMF radiation exposure can be severe. Over time, it can lead to cellular damage, DNA fragmentation, fertility issues, neurological disorders, and potential behavioural problems. 

Broadly speaking, we can divide the EMF radiation produced by electric vehicles into two categories:

  • Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) EMF radiation: Originates from all electronic devices, sourced from their batteries, parts, and internal circuitry.
  • Radio Frequency (RF) EMF radiation: Exclusively emitted from devices with wireless connections such as cellular phone service, Bluetooth, and WiFi.

In electric vehicles, the proximity of your body to a large battery and electronic circuitry increases your exposure to both forms of EMF radiation. 

Tesla’s EMF Emission: A Matter of Concern?

Tesla has a hold over the electric car market, so any investigation of EMF safety in electric vehicles has to assess Teslas. 

There’s no research into Tesla radiation specifically. Research on EMF levels in electric cars is limited but growing.

Studies conducted so far have generally found that EMF exposure levels in electric cars, including Teslas, are well below international guideline limits. These guidelines are set by organisations like the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). 

However, it’s not as simple as that, as many scientists have accused the regulations of being exceptionally generous, meaning compliance is by no means a guide to safety. 

In fact, while all phones are tested to meet these limits, studies into the effects of EMF repeatedly highlight health concerns that numerous studies link with EMF. It seems very likely that the guidelines aren’t fit for purpose, which the EMF Scientist Appeal argues. 

Here are some quotes from the EMF Scientist Appeal:

  • Don Maisch, PhD. Australia; “Now, more than ever, we need new, biologically relevant standards to meet the challenge of the future.”
  • Dr. Wenjun Sun, Director of the Institute of Environmental Medicine, China, “Our studies show that exposure to electromagnetic fields with intensity lower than the ICNIRP exposure guidelines can produce biological effects.” 
  • Dr. Yoon-Won Kim, MD. PhD. Professor, Department of Microbiology, South Korea; “International exposure guidelines for electromagnetic fields (EMF) must be revisited due to the existence of their adverse effects on our bodies, particularly on the male reproductive system.”
  • Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD, Formerly, Department of Oncology, University Hospital, Sweden; “Urgent revision of current guidelines for exposure to radiofrequency emissions is needed.”
  • Martin Blank, PhD., Special Lecturer, Columbia University, New York, USA, “International exposure guidelines for electromagnetic fields must be strengthened to reflect the reality of their impact on our bodies, especially on our DNA.” 

So, we must instinctively doubt the argument that something is safe because it meets international guidelines. 

Studies of EMF in Electric Cars

There is one notable study conducted in 2014 that investigated EMF levels in eleven different car models – seven electric, one hydrogen, and one petrol vehicle. 

Here’s a summary of the study:

This research project, led by SINTEF and involving nine other European countries, considered the rising number of electric vehicles and ongoing public apprehension about exposure to magnetic fields. 

The researchers used The International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines, which we’ve just discussed. 

The research team tested eleven different car models – seven electric, one hydrogen, and one petrol vehicle – to determine whether they approached the prescribed limits for human exposure. These tests were performed in both laboratory conditions and during actual road trips.

The highest values in electric cars were recorded near the floor, close to the battery, and during the startup phase. However, in all instances, the exposure to magnetic fields did not exceed 20% of the ICNIRP’s recommended limit. Notably, the measurements taken at head height were less than 2% of the same limit.

Exposure levels for petrol and diesel cars were recorded at approximately 10% of the prescribed limit, showing little variation between electric and conventionally powered vehicles.

The lead researcher, Schjølberg-Henriksen, states, “there is absolutely no cause for concern.” 

Other Electronics in Electric Vehicles

This growth of in-car technology also means increased electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation, primarily from personal electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

Smartphones, the most ubiquitous devices, emit EMF radiation whenever turned on – even more so when connected to a network, making calls, or using data services. Considering that many drivers use their phones for GPS navigation or streaming music while driving, EMF radiation emitted by smartphones in vehicles could be substantial.

5G and Other Wireless Communications

In addition to phones, wireless connections such as Bluetooth and WiFi further contribute to EMF radiation inside the car. Bluetooth is ubiquitous, and WiFi s increasingly offered in modern cars. These new connectivity options come with increased EMF radiation exposure.

Moreover, modern vehicles are loaded with advanced electronic systems that control everything from engine performance and safety systems to climate control and entertainment systems. 

Though current research suggests that the levels of EMF radiation inside cars are within internationally acceptable limits, the cumulative effects of prolonged exposure are not fully understood and warrant caution.

As we move towards a future with 5G and sophisticated electric vehicles, in-car technology will only increase, increasing EMF radiation exposure further. 

More comprehensive research and appropriate regulations are needed to ensure that in-car technology advancements do not compromise passenger health and safety. Meanwhile, it’s wise to exercise caution and be mindful of your exposure to EMF radiation in your electric vehicle. 

So, What’s The Verdict?

Electric vehicles probably aren’t a cause for concern, and de-advocating their use wouldn’t be sensible given their many other benefits. 

However, as our lives continue to be more intertwined with technology, we must listen to the signals from the scientific community, which has become more united against the potential health impacts of EMF. 

It’s crucial to note that while some studies suggest potential risks associated with long-term exposure to EMF radiation, others assure that the levels of exposure within electric and conventional vehicles are well within internationally accepted safety limits. 

One thing is for sure: it’s prudent for us to exercise caution where possible. 

Limiting the usage of personal electronic devices, using wired connections, and ensuring that unnecessary electronic systems are off when not in use are simple steps to minimise our EMF exposure. 

You can also consider using anti-radiation cases like those offered by WaveWall. They’ll reduce your phone’s radiation by over 85%, which vastly reduces the impact of any potential health risks.

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