EMF's and Electric Vehicles

EMF's and Electric Vehicles

Mar 14th 2023

What are Electromagnetic Fields (EMF's)? 

Simply said, EMF's is the energy that is generated all around us. From the sun to our cell phones, EMF's surround us every day. 

There are also other waves of different spectrums, ELF's and EMR's, that are also emitted by nature, electronics and other devices. 

If you are looking for more on the scientific conversation on EMF's, check out articles on our blog

What does Science Know? 

  • The WHO has said " Despite the feeling of some people that more research needs to be done, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals. Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research.”
  • The most harmful radiation is ionizing radiation like X rays and UV light from the sun. 
  • Over 25,000 research papers have been published on EMF's over the past 30 years. But there is still more to learn. 

Do Electric Vehicles Emit EMFs? 

It’s important to understand that all electric devices emit radiation and have a magnetic field. This applies to electric cars, the battery on a gas car, and even the cell phone in your hand. 

The type of EMR in an electric vehicle is known as extremely low-frequency radiation, or ELF. This is the result of the magnetic field that is emitted from the powerful electric motors that power the car. The real question isn’t “do EVs emit ELF magnetic fields?,” but, instead, “are the ELF magnetic fields emitted by EVs dangerous?” 

As the research stands, maybe or maybe not. There have been a lot of studies on this non-ionizing type of radiation with little conclusive evidence. When there is a paper that claims to have found something linking adverse health effects and ELFs, the papers are often highly criticized. 

On the other hand, a lot of papers NOT finding a link also exist. The most conclusive study to date, performed by the EU-funded research project and released in 2014, EM Safety, showed just that. As a result, the WHO decided to list ELFs as “possibly cancer-causing,” although no definitive evidence has been provided. 

Should car makers take steps to limit ELF exposure for humans? Potentially. Is it that big of a deal? It doesn’t look like it for now. What does this mean? 

  • All electric cars (and all vehicles for that matter) emit ELFs. 
  • ELFs have been studied, and no conclusive trends have emerged so far. 
  • It could be valuable to limit ELF exposure, but the science is still inconclusive. 

Are EVs like Tesla Safe? 

Since Tesla uses electric motors in their cars, they also emit ELFs as they operate.

As the EU-based research demonstrated with eleven cars, the ELFs and magnetic fields had the most intensity around the floor of the car, with it drastically dropping off the further up they measured. In fact, even at the floor level, the magnetic field directly on the floor of the car measured only 20% of the exposure recommendation as stated by the ICNIRP

The ICNIRP is the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and is committed to determining adverse health effects and safe exposure limits for all sorts of non-ionizing radiation. Further, measurements near head height only measured a mere 2% of the maximum recommended exposure limit by the ICNIRP. 

Essentially, EVs and Tesla only hit fractions of the conservative limits placed by various organizations all over the world, 20% and 2% at the floor level and head level, respectively. 

What About EV Charging Stations? 

There is a rush to install massive charging stations but what are the EMF issues? With the potential for a large "shed" of electricity and people hanging around waiting for their vehicles, the health impacts need to be considered. 

Until we know more, go wait for your car elsewhere while it is charging. If you are installing a charger at home, consider on outside wall - away from your living space. 

In Conclusion

Radiation is simply energy—some can be harmful, but not all of it is. 

  • EMFs and EMR are everywhere in the world around us, from the light from the sun to the heat from our bodies, and the invisible radio waves in the air around us. 
  • The most dangerous form of electromagnetic radiation is known as ionizing radiation since it has enough energy to cause damage to DNA and cause cancer. 
  • The vast majority of EMR is non-ionizing and doesn’t have the ability to harm humans that we know of today.
  • Certain low-frequency waves, known as ELFs, have shown a potential ability to impact humans at high exposure limits, although we don’t fully know what those impacts are. 
  • EV makers should limit ELF and magnetic field exposure, although scientists aren’t sure they are a real problem yet. But, of course, it never hurts to be safe. 
  • Current EVs don’t have ELFs or magnetic fields that are powerful enough to harm humans, even if your head was placed on the floor. 

The vast majority of the radiation we encounter in our life isn’t known to be harmful to us, although some can be—like the UV rays from the sun on a bright day. Low-frequency magnetic fields (like those emitted from electric motors) may impact humans, but current studies are too inconclusive. 

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