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Electric Cars Fine On Electromagnetic Emissions, Says EU Study

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2013 Nissan Leaf

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When new products arrive, they're often tested for safety to ensure they're suitable for a given market.

You wouldn't want a child's toy to have sharp edges, for example--so manufacturers adhere to certain requirements for toys, and some are tested to ensure they comply.

Electric cars are a new, disruptive product, so their safety is also in focus. Not just in terms of crashworthiness, but regulations on electromagnetic radiation, too.

The good news: They're perfectly safe.

A European-Union funded study, led by Scandinavian research organization SINTEF, has found that electric cars produce electromagnetic fields well below the minimum limits recommended by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNRP).

According to Green Car Congress (via Charged EVs), there was little difference between electromagnetic fields emanating from electric cars, and those coming from regular gasoline and diesel cars.

Electric vehicles had exposure levels of less than 20 percent that of the ICNRP's limiting value, while regular combustion vehicles sat at around 10 percent.

Measurements were taken near the floor of the vehicle, close to the battery and when starting the car.

MORE: Can Electric Cars & Hybrids Interfere With Pacemakers?

By the time measurements were taken near head-height, exposure was less than two percent of the limiting value.

 

"There is absolutely no cause for concern", explained Kari Schjølberg-Henriksen, a physicist at SINTEF.

That echoes findings of a study back in 2009, when rumors of electromagnetic fields around Toyota Prius hybrids were circulating.

The Prius was apparently a "cancer risk"--though data suggested no link could be found, with radiation levels no greater than we'd experience from simply walking around in our homes.

In its latest research, SINTEF actually found that the rotation of the wheels causes a "considerable" magnetic field, irrespective of the vehicle--so much of the electromagnetic field around a car is generated by its motion, regardless of drivetrain.

In other words, any electromagnetic radiation you're exposed to in an electric car is unlikely to be much greater than you've already experienced in dozens of other cars.

And you can probably add it to your list of things to not worry about--alongside the risk of pacemaker interference and cancer-causing Priuses.

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