No danger from magnetic fields in electric cars

May 06, 2014
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. Credit: Trondheim kommune

Many people are concerned that electric cars produce dangerous magnetic fields. New research shows that this is not the case.

Researchers from seven countries have concluded that we can feel safe both in electric-powered cars and in those powered by hydrogen, petrol and diesel. None of them exposes passengers to higher electromagnetic fields than those recommended in international standards. In fact, field intensity is well below the recommended value. The study is currently the most comprehensive ever carried out in this field.

SINTEF has led and participated in the research project, involving nine other European companies and research institutes.

"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," says Kari Schjølberg-Henriksen, a physicist at SINTEF.

In addition to improving the public's confidence when it comes to magnetic fields in electric cars, the goal of this project was primarily to create a standardised method for measuring electromagnetic fields in such vehicles.

The International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) defines the limiting values of acceptable exposure to magnetic fields at different frequencies.

Tests on eleven types of car

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 per cent of the limiting value recommended by the ICNIRP. Measurements taken at head-height are less than 2 per cent of the same limiting value.

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

All well below limiting value

Hence the conclusion is that magnetic fields in electric cars are well below the limiting values, and that there is a good safety margin.

"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 points out.

The EU-funded research project EM Safety is the most comprehensive study yet carried out to identify different sources of magnetic fields in . Seven countries have been involved in the project, in which universities, the car industry, research institutions and laboratories are represented.

Explore further: Tesla S electric car tops registrations in Norway

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ajdimension
5 / 5 (2) May 06, 2014
The columns of Astronomy & Physics are an excellent source on the current state of Science.
Good Job, Well Done, Keep it up !
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) May 06, 2014
What do people imagine magnetic fields do to them? The most dangerous of these are when you have a quick change of magnetic field strength.
As such the most 'dangerous' car parts (in terms of magnetic fields) are spark plugs in petrol cars.
If you have no problem living with that then you needn't worry about the magnetic fields in an EV.
gopher65
5 / 5 (1) May 06, 2014
What do people imagine magnetic fields do to them?

I'm not sure exactly, but I think it's something along the lines of "but, but, but, iron in your blood! Brain-Thaumatology! QUANTUM!!!!"

Even the most well informed person has their blind spots, and everyone has a general lack of knowledge about something. And if everyone who made stupid comments about things like "magnets! Brain!" fell into that "they just don't know about this particular subject" category you could just walk away from the occasional ignorant comment, secure in the likelihood that they'd eventually see the available evidence and put together the truth for themselves.

But there are so many people with almost no knowledge about anything important (including basic things - like how to think), and yet they still manage to have dangerously strong (and demonstrably incorrect) opinions about those subjects. You can't just ignore their ludicrous levels of self-imposed ignorance and walk away. After all, they vote.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) May 06, 2014
Even the most well informed person has their blind spots

Yeah. But it's not like we don't have the internet. Instead of voicing fears it's probably a lot less effort to just look it up.

In never get what's so great about having strong convictions (be it fears or support) about a subject which one knows nothing of.
That just means you're opinionated.
Scottingham
2 / 5 (1) May 06, 2014
There's also this little thing called the inverse square law with regards to magnetic fields.

Though something like that can be hard to explain to your Joe Six Packs and Palinistas.
Modernmystic
not rated yet May 06, 2014
What do people imagine magnetic fields do to them? The most dangerous of these are when you have a quick change of magnetic field strength.


The same people who think the non-ionizing microwave radiation from cell phones can do anything other than warm up their skin....

If magnets did anything appreciable to the human body (harming OR healing) then getting into an MRI would riddle you with cancer or cure every illness known to man.

In never get what's so great about having strong convictions (be it fears or support) about a subject which one knows nothing of.
That just means you're opinionated.


The irony is extraordinarily thick here....
ab3a
5 / 5 (2) May 06, 2014
People have been studying the effects of electromagnetic radiation since the very earliest days of its discovery. Aside of well known heating effects, there are no known, repeatable effects of non-ionizing radiation.

And yet, here we are, for the umpteenth time, studying that which has not been repeatably shown to cause anything but benign effects. I sometimes wonder if this is welfare for medical scientists.
JPWHiteHome
not rated yet May 06, 2014
The purpose of FUD like this being generated is to make potential EV customers feel uneasy about buying an EV. Even an article like this that dismisses any problem will automatically plant a seed of doubt in people's minds.Why go to the trouble of saying there isn't a problem? There must be a problem!!! A subtle form of mud slinging.

Electric motors have been used in lathes and other machinery in factories for decades, how often do we hear of 'EMF' being an issue? Never!! EMF can be pain in creating radio interference, but other than that we never hear of it. Except of course now for Evil EV's.

It i satisfying I suppose to know that the anti-EV brigade have to stoop this low to 'find fault' with EV's.
Rustybolts
not rated yet May 07, 2014
Why does it take researchers from seven different countries backed by EU funds to hold a EMF meter in the car? The only part that matters is where you sit, so that's like 4 places.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) May 07, 2014
The same people who think the non-ionizing microwave radiation from cell phones can do anything other than warm up their skin....

That's a bit of a different critter. An induced current is due to a CHANGE in magnetic field (first derivative). Since cell phone signals are digital the first derivative is rather large (steep slopes). So even a small power output gives you a large induced current (compared to an EV with its comparatively slow change of field - even though its field strength is many times higher).

Added to that the inverse square law Scottingham quite rightly pointed out (cell phones are MUCH closer to you at all times) and you get a different picture.

It's like in an MR scanner: The huge field (3,5 or even 7 Tesla) is not the problem - it's static. It's the quick changing fields that induce the signal which can cause trouble for people with implants or even tattoos with metal based inks.
ajdimension
not rated yet May 07, 2014
On The issue of Cell Phone radiation damage to humans: We Homo Sapiens are 75% H2O
as such be very careful of 2.1415 Ghz radiation. This is the center frequency of Microwave ovens. And 2.1415 Ghz is the resonant frequency of H2O -- You may have noticed that all microwaved food seems soggy. The Cell Phone at any Frequency is so very low POWER, so the idea of harm or not holding the phone touching the ear to avoid harm is nonsense. The Cell Phone has a range of approx. 4 miles to the next cell tower - Do you think 4 inches closer or further to ones ear would make a difference. What about the H20 in your hand ??