It had to happen, just when we were beginning to think that plug-in hybrid and electric cars were the best things since sliced bread, someone has intimated that there may be a health risk involved in driving those vehicles.
You remember, the power line scare back in the ’70’s (which really hasn’t gone away) and of course the more recent flap about cell phones emitting dangerous electromagnetic fields to the brain. In case you want to read more on these issues, a specific Google entry should suffice.Now, before you go somewhere else, hang on, there’s more to this electromagnetic field issue than you may think. That’s coming up, along with a short tip of the hat to the man who got us started on our way to the world we live in.
Back to the story. A New York Times article suggests that the flow of electrical current to the motor that moves a vehicle, in this case a hybrid, sets up very large electromagnetic fields that could result in health risks to both adults and children. Again, the reference here is to children and the danger of leukemia. Sound familiar?
Now, we live with electromagnetic fields (EMF) every day. Where electric current flows, generally speaking, there are EMF’s of varying degrees. There are no specific government, or scientific standards for EMF exposure, so much of this concern is pure conjecture, or so it seems. As for plug-ins and electric cars, it is thought that drivers and passengers could be exposed to large EMF’s for extended periods of time.
The NYT article told the story of a Staten Island woman who bought a Honda Civic Hybrid in 2007. She drove the car about 200 miles each week as part of her employment. After a while, the woman said she fell asleep at the wheel three times, and her blood pressure rose. She believes the strong electromagnetic fields produced by electrical systems in the car caused the malady.
There could be many causes for her affliction, but just remember that it’s her reality, specific to her alone. The woman clearly stated those were her own conclusions and not based on a doctor’s opinion.
To make a long story short, both Toyota and Honda say their hybrids meet all recognized safety standards. They say their plug-ins are tested for EMF’s and they stand by the safety of their products.
Just to set the record straight, man-made EMF’s may not be the only threat to health. A recent article in New Scientist tells of research in Russia that indicates the earth’s very own EMF’s may result in suicides. And there is ongoing research into the effects of the earth’s magnetic fields on humans. A trip to Google is suggested for further research.
While preparing for this article, I thought of the man who brought electromagnetism into the public mainstream, and made everything we hold electrically dear today possible.
His name, Nikola (Nicholas) Tesla, a Serbian immigrant born in 1856. He’s often been called “the man who invented the twentieth century.”
Tesla held more than a hundred patents, including the transmission of electric power, an electro-magentic motor, a regulation system for alternating current, which powers our world today. His inventions made radio and TV possible, his induction motor has made it possible for nearly everything that moves on wheels today. In spite of all that, he never became financially wealthy, dying in 1943, and according to some, penniless.
Was Tesla affected by electromagnetic fields? After all, he spent his life exploring them, often living for hours within high concentrations. He was 87 when he died. Could they have helped extend his life, or were his genes just right for a long life?
There’s a story on EV World about Tesla’s so-called “Black Magic” touring car. It was a 1931 Pierce-Arrow, supposedly converted by Tesla and his nephew to run on some sort of energy created out of a box of electronic circuitry measuring 24 x 12 x 6 inches. He replaced the gasoline engine with an electric motor, hooked the circuit box up to the motor and they were off. The car is said to have been capable of reaching speeds up to 90 mph.
Eventually, the car reportedly wound up on a farm near Buffalo, New York, and the magic “converter” box disappeared.
The article asks, had he tapped into the earth’s magnetic field, or, found zero point energy or gravitation waves?
I’m sure we’ll never know.
As for today’s hybrids and electric cars being dangerous to our health, it appears more scientific study is needed to answer that question.
Posts Related to Plug-ins and Electric Cars:
- Coal-Power Can’t Stop Plug-In Hybrids From Beating Normal Cars
- Affordable Electric Cars Coming to US in 2009
- Formula 1 Racing to Go Hybrid from 2009-2013