Hidden Hybrid Automobile Dangers, What You Should Know About EMFs

Of course, you’ve heard of hybrid automobiles but most people haven’t heard of their possible health risk compared to traditional vehicles. According to the New York Times, strong electromagnetic fields (EMFs) emanating from high voltage power cables located near the driver might be hazardous to your health, yet the government doesn’t even test for EMF’s in vehicles. Details, inside…

“Hybrids” are vehicles that use an electric power motor which assists a more traditional gasoline-fueled combustion engine. Unlike traditional vehicles, hybrids need to move a large amount of electricity near the driver which cause electromagnetic fields or EMFs. Many drivers are in their cars for hours at a time, making this exposure is prolonged, thus increasing the health risk. This has many drivers concerned. The article says,

Their concern is not without merit; agencies including the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute acknowledge the potential hazards of long-term exposure to a strong electromagnetic field, or E.M.F., and have done studies on the association of cancer risks with living near high-voltage utility lines.

EMFs are a byproduct of electricity, therefore, virtually every device that uses electricity produces some level of EMF. Generally, the more electricity that is involved, the stronger the EMF will be. However, there is no general agreement or federal standard that says what level of EMF’s are hazardous. Currently the government does not do safety tests on the strength of EMF’s in hybrid vehicles.

Much of this new concern over EMFs has stemmed from the use of inexpensive field-strength detectors such as the “TriField” meter which sells for $145. The article says,

The TriField meter is made by AlphaLab in Salt Lake City. The company’s president, Bill Lee, defends its use for automotive testing even though the meter is set up to test alternating current fields, whereas the power moving to and from a hybrid vehicle’s battery is direct current. “Generally, an A.C. meter is accurate in detecting large electromagnetic fields or microwaves,” he said.

Automakers argue that such instruments cannot make consistent and meaningful readings, however, there is anecdotal evidence of hybrid vehicle EMFs causing health problems. Neysa Linzer, 58, says that since she bought her Honda Civic Hybrid her blood pressure has increased and that she has fallen asleep at the wheel 3 times. She believes her hybrid is causing her health problems, “I never had a sleepiness problem before,” she said. She requested that Honda provide her with shielding material to protect her from the fields but Honda declined.

Driver, Brian Collins decided to test his Honda Insight with a Trifield meter. He received readings of 135 milligauss at the hip and 100 milligauss at the upper torso. Considering his VW Van only measures between 1-2 milligauss, he decided to sell his hybrid at a $7000 loss. The article says,

Lawrence Gust of Ventura, Calif., a consultant with a specialty in E.M.F.’s and electrical sensitivity, was one of the electrical engineers who tested Mr. Collins’s Insight in 2001. He agreed that the readings were high but did not want to speculate on whether they were harmful. “There are big blocks of high-amp power being moved around in a hybrid, the equivalent of horsepower,” he said. “I get a lot of clients who ask if they should buy hybrid electric cars, and I say the jury is still out.”

New technology often comes with new risks. Naturally, reduced gasoline consumption is a good thing but we should not ignore possible risks as these vehicles gain popularity. We encourage the government and automakers to be more forthcoming with thorough EMF research so that we don’t end up paying a higher price down the road.

Fear, but Few Facts, on Hybrid Risk [NY Times] (Thanks to Justin!)
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Jaysyn was banned for: https://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    Now is the time to really break out those tin-foil hats!

  2. Gann says:

    I thought these things would be shielded in some way. On the bright side, maybe hybrid = contraceptive?

  3. Skankingmike says:

    yea cause I’m sure breathing in all that exhaust is good for us.

    Listen drinking tap water increases your risk of cancer too.

    So does living, did you know living increases your risk of cancer. Yep the longer you live the more likely you’ll get cancer. I think the government needs to step in and stop living.

    *sarcasm off

  4. zentex says:

    @Jaysyn: or in the case of Hybrid’s…a tinfoil codpiece! (135 mg @ the hip)

  5. blackmage439 says:

    “…so that we don’t end up paying a higher price down the road.”

    I think it’s already too late. As soon as this hits the public, there’s going to be at LEAST one sue-happy hippy who will go straight for the automakers’ throat.

  6. zentex says:

    @Skankingmike: impossible. I’ve been to LA, and I didn’t see a warning sticker on the faucet. However, I don’t know if babies are affixed with stickers at birth.

    *sarcasm’s always on

  7. Leiterfluid says:

    More FUD about hybrids. I’ve owned a Prius for almost 5 years now (5 years next week, in fact), and I don’t have any outstanding health issues. Outside of being fat and lazy, I have high cholesterol, but no problems with blood pressure, and I have never fallen asleep at the wheel.

  8. @zentex: I agree. Screw my brain, I still wanna screw.

  9. And lets not also forget about the dangers to the people outisde the car. Like children being hit by these silent vehicles. [news.google.com]

    Or the fact that Seeing Eye dogs now have to be trained w/hybrid cars so they don’t lead their handlers into traffic.

  10. Parramore says:

    So I guess this means Jason and Grant won’t be switching to hybrids for future TAPS vehicles.

  11. Laffy Daffy says:

    You know, I remember reading years ago that Russia wouldn’t let anyone live within a quarter-mile of those giant high-tension electric wires because of EMFs. Now in a lot of suburbs I see half-million-dollar homes being built almost directly underneath these wires and I wonder if these people know about that at all. It would suck living under a time bomb.

  12. laserjobs says:

    I would not think a DC electrical field would be much of a concern. If it was AC then I would be concerned for ELF radiation.

  13. thirdbase says:

    So a solution to the global warming myth is killing those who believe. Now hybrid drivers have to be willing to die for a faux cause.
    I’ll drive my gas guzzling truck till they figure this one out

  14. This post is unbelievable.

  15. dmuth says:

    Wow. Just wow. That whole “power lines cause cancer” think is an old piece of junk science that rebutted many years ago. See [www.quackwatch.org] for more info on this.

    I’m kinda surprised to see that it is STILL be repeated.

    And as for that lady who apparently fell asleep 3 times in her Prius, I need to remind folks that anecdotes != data.

  16. AlexJP says:

    Typically, the Prius moves power from the battery in the rear to the
    inverter at ~273 V DC (forgive me if the number is wrong). Although it
    is nominally DC, I can accept that some EMF is produced due to power
    moving back and forth during normal operation.

    By way of comparison, People in Western Europe spend most of their
    lives in close proximity to 240 V AC. Lower magnitude, but potentially
    more EMF.

    As Europeans are not going extinct, there needs to be way more study of this before it is time to panic.

  17. Juggernaut says:

    I’m sticking with my ’68 El Dorado convertible at 6 gallons to the mile and heading over to Taco Bell for some grade E burrito’s right now. Who’s with me?? C’mon guys! Did we give up when the germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Let’s do it!!!

  18. r4__ says:

    Seriously now.
    Do people seriously believe that a few tenths of a Gauss are really that harmful?
    I could see if you had a pacemaker and it were interfering with it, or if it were erasing ATM cards, that would be strong enough to be inconvenient for you. But otherwise, magnets is magnets.

  19. CarMatchPro says:

    He mentioned a 135 milligaus reading and compares that to a 1-2 millagaus reading from his VW, but is that 135 bad? We assume that is based on that comparison. I really don’t have a clue.

    That being said…what would a laptop have as far as milligaus reading?

    I remember going over this questionnaire about EMF’s…if i slept near a clock radio, how long i was in front of the computer, etc.

    No sarcasm here…if anyone can throw some facts that would be appreciated!

  20. CityGuySailing says:

    Wow CONSUMERIST… I’m stunned. Is this another Junk Science scare, akin to the BPa Junk Science scare from the recent past? I can’t even begin to describe how flawed this is…

  21. zsouthboy says:

    No one, EVER, ever, ever, has proven that biological tissue – you know, the stuff we’re made of? – is affected by EMF.

    Plenty of studies have been done.

    People that claim they can “feel” EMF and RF? Put them in a room designed to test their claims, and guess what happens?

    This is amazingly bullshit, and I’m appalled at the consumerist for spreading the myth.

    I love everyone talking about powerlines: yeah, because unshielded, high-power lines aren’t running EVERYWHERE underneath you, in your workplaces and homes and cities.

  22. IrisMR says:

    Whatever. No scientific proof of biological problems linked to EMF. It’s all overreacting bull.


  23. courtarro says:

    @laserjobs: I think you only have to worry about ELF radiation close to the North Pole.

  24. Necoras says:

    This is absurd. 100 milligauss is .1 gauss. The Earth’s magnetic field at any given point on the Earth varies between .3 and .6 gauss. You’re really going to tell me that a magnetic field several times weaker than the Earth’s (the one that every human ever has lived and evolved in) is going to give me cancer? Really? Shame on you Consumerist. Do some research.

  25. @Dead Wrestlers Society:

    That was the first thing I thought, too.

  26. TechnoElf says:

    I would really be curious about the tests were done as well. If it’s just a hand held device whats to stop other surrounding EMFs, power line, cellphones, etc. from messing with the results.

  27. hill_policy_wonk says:

    And now for a word from someone lacking a tinfoil hat. Professor Bob Parks:

    EMF stopped causing cancer in 1997, but no one bothered to tell Jim Motavalli, who wrote an Automobile column in the Sunday New York Times about the risks of EMF in hybrids. According to Motavalli the National Cancer Institute studied the cancer risks associated with electromagnetic fields. And so it did – but it couldn’t find any. You might think Motavalli would at least check the Archives of the New York Times. On July 3, 1997, the day the massive four-year NCI study of power lines and cancer appeared in the New England Journal of Medicine, Gina Kolata reported in the Times that the study was unambiguous and found no health effects associated with electromagnetic fields. An editorial in the same issue of the Journal put it in perspective: “Hundreds of millions of dollars have gone into studies that never had much promise of finding a way to prevent the tragedy of cancer in children. It is time to stop wasting our research resources.” It all began in 1979 when Nancy Wertheimer, an unemployed epidemiologist, and her friend Ed Leeper, drove around Denver looking for common environmental factors in the homes of childhood victims of leukemia. It practically jumped out at them – every home had electricity. Their study was so flawed it would have been laughed off but for Paul Brodeur, a scientifically-ignorant writer for The New Yorker. He wrote a series of terrifying articles about power lines and cancer that were collected in a 1989 book, Currents of Death.


  28. MrEvil says:

    Lifeforms have been exposed to EM Fields since they crawled out of the primordial ooze (or when the spaghetti head monster extended his noodly appendage). The Earth is one big honking magnet. I’m simply finding it highly dubious that exposure to an EM field really has that much effect on a lifeform that’s spent its entire existence on a planet with a magnetic field. There’s even been evidence to suggest that earth’s magnetic field has fluctuated in intensity and polarity in the past.

  29. Heyref says:

    As the NYT headline says, “Fear But Few Facts.” This is beyond junk science and into crap “science.” This is as bad as the City of Sebastopol turning down a donation of free municipal Wi-Fi, because it might harm “electrosensitive” citizens.

  30. Sockatume says:

    BS-sense tingling! When a company trying to sell you something is sounding the alarm, you should be careful. While “strong EMFs” are harmful, we’re talking many, many orders of magnitude above that a power cable in a Hybrid will produce. For example, there’s no evidence of health risks from occupational (i.e. long term, all-day) exposure to the EMFs generated by instruments like nuclear imaging equipment, and they’re in far, far, far wider use, are far more closely monitored, and are a zillion times stronger than, the fields we’re talking about here.

  31. chrisjames says:

    Jay Slatkin, could you add the facts related in @Necoras’s comments to the post? We shouldn’t accept ignorance on either side of the issue in regards to measurable data.

    And let’s not suggest that we should just listen to the government and automakers on the risks (or benefits) of exposure to EMFs. The government can’t prevent cancer by grace of judgement, even if scientifically backed. Third-party, double-blind studies with strict metrics and no (possibly) biased conclusions please. I’ll judge for myself.

    (PS. Now I’m ashamed to be American, because judgment is the proper American spelling. It just looks silly and I won’t have it. ;) )

  32. jwinston2 says:

    I would suggest looking at: [www.emf-portal.de]

    I think it is funny that so many people are saying EMF’s have no biological effect when a significant amount of scientific evidence is suggesting that at the minimum more research needs to be done because of results suggesting some cellular response. Anyway from a quick search at Pubmed I found the following conclusions:

    “CONCLUSION: Continuous low-intensity electromagnetic field comparable to the one that generates around metal devices because of the generation of corrosion currents inhibits osteoblasts differentiation pattern and might contribute at least in part to a decrease in periprosthetic bone formation occurring in vivo.”

    “In conclusion, non-invasive EMF induction of hsp70 preserved myocardial function and has the potential to improve tolerance to ischemic injury.”

    “CONCLUSION: EMFs produced by incubators influence newborns’ HRV, showing an influence on their autonomous nervous system. More research is needed to assess possible long-term consequences, since premature newborns may be exposed to these high EMFs for months.”

  33. Dillenger69 says:

    I can’t believe people buy that EMF is that harmful. That’s probably the same set of people that believe in homeopathic medicine.

    I’m going to get a homeopathic medical degree by sitting near a medical school. I’ll pick up the knowledge vibrations that way.

  34. mike says:

    Consumerist, I’m so sad. I have sent a couple of tips in that were far more entertaining that this article that didn’t hit front-page.

  35. stevegoz says:

    Like Jeebus himself, this hybrid driver is willing to die for the Escalade drivers’ sins. And hey, this way I might miss $10/gallon gas.

    Peace out!

  36. stevegoz says:

    Also: EMF? Unbelievable!

  37. Goety says:

    Didn’t Bob Parks pretty much debunk the EMF danger in “Voodoo Science”? The neo-Luddites didn’t get anywhere with their EMF fear mongering about mobile phones, so are going after the newest electrical gadget.

  38. Skankingmike says:

    @zentex: LA GOOD GOD MAN by the very definition of death you should be it!

    why with all that smog, water pollution, lead paint and gang violence not to mention drug use and hippie propaganda!!!!!! why you must be a walking corpse of cancer.


  39. schestnut says:

    This is ridiculous, for comparison, Earth’s magnetic field is about 500 milligauss. In fact, the distortion in Earth’s field that you experience just being next to a large piece of metal (like a car) is likely to be larger than 135 milligauss.

  40. mjuevo says:

    Plenty of people have already pointed out that this is pure crackpottery. However, as further evidence of this, I would like to point out that NOBODY who actually works in physics, electrical engineering, etc. would ever refer to an electromagnetic field as an “EMF.” “EMF” stands for “electromotive force.”

  41. audreyhorne says:

    @blackmage439: thanks for helping me figure out how to pay for the rest of college.

  42. Sasha_Pie says:

    I’m sure that certain automakers will try to stir up some hysteria over this. They would love nothing more than to scare us back to buying their prehistoric gas-guzzlers.

    Car Salesman: “Oh you want the hybrid rather than the SUV? Well yeah sure you’ll get a few extra miles per gallon, but in the end, is the CANCER worth it?”

    *shakes head*

  43. NewPerfection says:

    This article is plainly stupid. I agree with the majority of the posters here. I hardly think that the small electromagnetic field emitted in a Prius is going to do anything to a biological life form. That guy that sold his hybrid at a $7000 loss just because his VW van had a lower gauss rating is especially idiotic. This goes right along with walking under a ladder and black cats. Or have those been proven to cause cancer too?

  44. henwy says:

    This was just a really shoddy article all around. Next thing you know we’ll be seeing something on here about vaccines causing autism. For Gods sake people, it’s easy enough to educate yourself enough to debunk this sort of crap. Take the extra few minutes and stop being scammed by the fear machine.

  45. DanGross says:

    So then how many of these so I need then for my Prius?

    So, according to them, even if we play the “DC is the same as AC” game, I’m looking at exposure that’s less than what I’m exposed to sitting in front of my computer…

    And of course to add to the “what’s good for the environment is bad for you” scare-mongering, CFL bulbs create much more EMF than incandescent bulbs…Consumerist might want to create a post on that…

  46. tevetorbes says:

    Um, how do you submit a comment to The Consumerist urging them to stop posting blatantly snopes-worthy articles as “news”?

    This is the third one:

    (1) No such thing as Grade D taco bell meat guys- I thought everyone but 15-year-old kids who SWEAR they’ve seen Taco Bell employees carrying out boxes labeled “Grade D” knew this already.

    (2) You can’t Taser yourself unconscious, no matter what stupid forum you copy/pasted the “story” from (and I use the word liberally).


    (3) As others have stated, there is no evidence (scientific or otherwise) that says that EMF are harmful, as has been stated by numerous others in this post.

    Either we’ve regressed to April-Fools Consumerist, the editors are friggin asleep at the wheel, or they’ve hired a new 15-year old who was driven to work at Taco Bell this morning by his mom in her hybrid while tasering himself in the leg.

    Stop. Posting. Bullshit. Guys.

  47. Juggernaut says:

    Professor Irwin Corey explains it all


  48. Juggernaut says:

    @tevetorbes: You’re wrong dude! I have personally tased myself unconcious while eating Taco Bell in an EMF field which left me sterile… and they allow me to eat two jello’s but only on Wednesday!

  49. MayorBee says:

    @Dead Wrestlers Society:

    This post is unbelievable.

    You’re the best.

  50. The Porkchop Express says:

    @stevegoz: nice!

    So in the article it looks like the author says there are studies regarding the link….so he is just telling us there are studies. Not that the studies are finding anything.

  51. ironchef says:

    file this under cellphone causes cancer, hysteria.

  52. The Porkchop Express says:

    Damn I forgot to ask if this would also eventually kill Neo, Morphius and Trinity.

    I or where they using EMP’s? hmmmm

  53. uberbucket says:

    I also believe EMF causes cancer…the band EMF that is.

    “Hybrid Risks”. Give me a fucking break.

  54. betatron says:

    Even the article cites call BS on this. I’m calling shennagins. There is a huge motivation to discover, if it exists, the link between B-field (ac or dc) exposure and any biological pathologies.

    The fact that this “hazard” shows up suddenly after we look at Hybrid cars or, fraudulently, when we examine power lines, should be probative. Let me reiterate the FRAUD of the berkely researcher who “found” a connection between power lines emissions and cancer.
    It was a LIE.

    Fear, innumeracy and antiscientific superstitious claptrap, thy name is EMF hazard.

    Following the links in the article, searching on “EMF” the first one points to :
    (NIH story link)
    Federal investigation finds that Robert P Liburdy, a scientist at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in Berkeley, Calif, faked what came to be considered crucial evidence of a tie between cancer and electromagnetic fields created by electric power lines; officials say his misrepresentations helped him win $3.3 million in grants from National Institutes of Health, Energy Department and Defense Department; he has resigned from laboratory and agreed to withdraw his research findings[…]

    National Cancer Institute, searching for “magnetic”
    No hits on “EMF”

    Note the “some correlation article is 16 years earlier than the power line article”

    Big Study Sees No Evidence Power Lines Cause Leukemia
    Study by National Cancer Institute and childhood leukemia experts finds no evidence that exposure to magnetic fields produced by electric power lines causes childhood leukemia; report, published in New England Journal of Medicine, follows earlier National Academy of Sciences study that found no evidence that power lines cause cancer, but that called for further research on childhood leukemia
    July 3, 1997
    SCIENCE WATCH; Electricity and Cancer
    Preliminary findings from a study of men exposed to electromagnetic fields suggest that they have slightly higher rates of breast cancer. No theory adequately explains exactly why electromagnetic fields may increase the risk of cancer. Some scientists suggest the fields promote tumors or cause cells to proliferate.
    September 17, 1991

  55. joelja says:

    from my response to the article on treehugger…

    kim says:
    > I also think that EMFs shouldn’t be mocked.

    studies have shown the coupling between very powerful EM fields and childhood cancers to be poorly if at all coupled. there work that suggest a causal relationship outside the realm of em field emissions

    and we’re talking much higher energy levels (ie over 100kilovolts) see:


    and no those citations are by in large not from the power industry.

    em fields are subject to the inverse square law so when the distance between you and the emitter doubles your exposure is cut by half..

    hybrid and electric cards are fairly low voltage (by transmission standards from 48volt up to about 300volts. they are direct current although some implementations use 3 phase ac induction motors… Low frequency noise is produced by the alternator.

    Alonso Perez says
    >I don’t trust exposure to EMF is well understood.
    >I barely use my cell phone for precisely this reason.

    Dangers from microwave radiation particularly high energy emitters (which are ionzing) should not be examined in the same breath with em fields from power sources. They have different properties. in the same sense ionizing and non-ionizing microwave sources should not be lumped together.

    We’ve got over 100 years experience with em fields at normal household voltages from around 100 to 400 volts. We got 50 years experience safely managing workplace and consumer exposure to ionizing microwave radiation. We have 25 years managing the microwave rf emissions of cellular and ism band devices.

    Are cellphone safe? maybe not, but compared to what? the actual power output has dropped by about 3 orders of magnitude since the early 80s, the frequency has gone up.

    Are cars dangerous? Absolutely, there are about 40,000 traffic deaths a year in the US in a population of 300 million that means your share of it is 1 in 7500 per year. So what’s scarier? a vague but uncertain threat that’s low probablity? or one that we’re quite comfortable with but face every day.

    Am I concerned about exposure to the em field from from my civic hybrid? No…

  56. betatron says:

    I should mention, by using the headline and forebearing to apply a scintilla of discernment, The Consumerist is dong nothing more than promoting FUD and bullshit.

    You are ABUSING your station.

    You have a responsibility to epsitomological integrity. FAIL!

    Bad consumerist, Shame.

  57. KingPsyz says:

    this study was paid for by the folks at OPEC, Exxon, Shell, BP…

  58. uberbucket says:

    Wait ’till plug-in hybrids and full electric vehicles start hitting the market in force. There will be more and more “studies” that find they all cause cancer, impotency, male pattern baldness and terrorism.

  59. ArdelisCeryneian says:

    Comment on Hidden Hybrid Automobile Dangers, What You Should Know About EMFs Electrical lesson for today:

    A) There are Magnetic fields and there are Electric fields but there are no electromagnetic fields.
    B) EMF is the acronym for Electromagnetic Force known today as Voltage.
    C) All wires, carrying Alternating Current (AC), transmit Electromagnetic Radiation known as RF. This RF is at the frequency of the AC running in the wire.
    D) The wires in these cars run on DC, which has zero frequency and so there is no Electromagnetic Radiation being generated.

    Thanks for your time.

    Mike in Memphis
    Electrical Engineer

    Note: Tomorrows lesson is on why all US Naval Vessels are not Battleships. Hint: All of the BBs are retired.

  60. Amy Alkon000 says:

    Neysa Linzer, 58, says that since she bought her Honda Civic Hybrid her blood pressure has increased and that she has fallen asleep at the wheel 3 times. She believes her hybrid is causing her health problems, “I never had a sleepiness problem before,” she said.

    As the saying goes, “The plural of anecdote is not evidence.”

    –Amy Alkon (who drives a 2004 Honda Insight that gets 60ish mpg hwy, 45ish city).

  61. Imaginary_Friend says:

    Prius balls. New term for the Oxford ENglish Dictionary.

  62. @tevetorbes:
    “(2) You can’t Taser yourself unconscious, no matter what stupid forum you copy/pasted the “story” from (and I use the word liberally).”

    This looks like a job for the Mythbusters! and BTW, “And Teve said, “Dat, what about Dob?”. I loved that sketch. Whenever I catch it, I lose it when they bring Boba Fett’s name into it, Lamar Alexander 2.

  63. @Amy Alkon: Maybe she’s getting light headed from smelling her own farts.

  64. Radoman says:

    First cellphones caused cancer, then they didn’t. First eggs were bad for you, then they weren’t. First high voltage electro magnetic fields were bad for you, now they’re supposed to be fine.

    Personally, I’m not ready to pass judgment either way. I don’t use a cellphone extensively, I don’t eat a lot of eggs, and I don’t knowingly expose myself to extra radiation if I can help it. I mean, Electrical Engineers aren’t even sure if circuits energize positive to negative or negative to positive, so who knows what’s really going on and how much danger this poses? The knowledge just isn’t there.

    Electro magnetism is a form of radiation. Radiation tends to be generally bad for humans, that’s why we’re so lucky to be shielded from most of space’s radiation by our atmosphere. (and magnetic field) Irradiating humans causes cellular level mutation, and not in that cool “I have superpowers!” kind of way.

    When electricity passes through wire, that wire emanates an electro magnetic field. Wouldn’t it be a good idea to shield the wire better? (grounded shielding) Or possibly move the wires away from the passenger compartment? You know, just in case.

    Seems only prudent.

  65. elanne says:

    Just wondering … anyone remember the 1973 Oil Crisis? It is amazing to me we don’t hear, talk, or read much about it. I realize some folks are too young to remember it or remember it well, but at least everyone who is part of the so-called ‘Boomer Explosion’ should have some vivid recall. There’s a lot of deja vu here folks.

    It was so bad that they had to invent something called ‘locking gas caps’ to help curb gas theft. You could only buy gas on odd/even days determined by the ending of your license plate number, and there were mile long lines at the pumps.

    Here’s a wiki link:

  66. jimv2000 says:

    My blood pressure would go up to if I paid that much for a hybrid and then found out that the mileage isn’t even that great.

  67. ouphie says:

    @jimv2000: My blood pressure is just fine cruising the streets at 53 mpg in my ’07 Prius. Plus my car payments are the lowest amongst my friends.

  68. TexasP says:

    > As Europeans are not going extinct,
    > there needs to be way more study of
    > this before it is time to panic.

    But waiiiit a minute; Europeans _are_ going extinct:


    Panic! Panic!

  69. The Porkchop Express says:

    @Git Em SteveDave: yes. It’s the smug that will kill us all

  70. girly says:

    Hybrids do pose a risk to rescue workers saving crash vicitms


  71. losiek says:

    @boones farmer: there are hign voltage lines and there are HIGH voltage lines – there may be orders of magnitude difference there. What you see close to your neighborhood maybe 33kV (or 33,000V), some other lines – especially them russian ones – are 1200kV (or 1,200,000 V). I’ve lived in Poland and we had a few 550KV lines going “from” Russia at the time (from was only in theory as we all knew which way the current went).

    Anyway: [en.wikipedia.org]

  72. Tzepish says:

    I’ve owned a Honda Insight for two years, and I’ve never been healthier. Of course, I’m eating right and exercising regularly for the first time in my life as well… I imagine the health detriments can’t be too bad if they are easily more than offset by healthy lifestyle decisions.

  73. Ragman says:

    @joelja: Inverse square law says that doubling the distance reduces field strength to 1/4, not 1/2, of the intensity.

  74. Hawkins says:

    You want scary electromagnetic fields? Get on a subway.

    Try this little experiment: scatter metallic paper clips all around on the floor of the subway car. You’ll immediately be able to tell where the wheels (and motors) are, because the paper clips above them will actually rise (one end) off the floor, in alignment with the large magnetic fields created by the motors as the train accelerates.

    It takes large amounts of energy to get an 80,000-pound subway car moving. I’ve never measured the strength of these subway-car magnetic fields, but I bet they’re in the honkin’ range.

    I add my voice to those that decry silly articles like this.

  75. mariospants says:

    This is bullshit: there’s no proof that EMF radiation of the magnitude you get exposed to in a hybrid causes any cancer in humans. If more research is forthcoming, I’ll bet it will not find anything concrete.

    But we do know of a true, powerful carcinogen: gasoline. And yet we’re exposed to it every time we pump the tank full.

    You’ll likely die from eating organic lettuce long before you die of being exposed to electromagnetic radiation from your hybrid.

  76. Mad_Science says:

    @Radoman: It appears you’re right on par with the year 1865’s understanding of electormagnetism. (one word, by the way).

  77. “And yet we’re exposed to it every time we pump the tank full.”

    @mariospants: Move to NJ. We take that danger and pass it on to teenagers. God bless NJ!

  78. girly says:

    cutting into one of the power lines to get to a crash victim can’t be too healthy, though

  79. DeafLEGO says:

    Do I sense a lawsuit against YoTa Mota?

  80. framitz says:

    If the EMF in question is a high frequency RF, then I would be concerned, but I suspect that it is mostly the product of DC which would produce a fairly constant and HARMLESS field. But then I only have a little over 35 years of experience in this area.

  81. almk says:

    @mjuevo: Thanks. I started reading the article and wondering why voltage was hurting people if they weren’t being electrocuted and then realized the ridiculous abbreviation they were using.

    I have a degree in Physics. Direct current electromagnetic fields will not hurt you.

  82. TexasP says:

    > You want scary electromagnetic
    > fields? Get on a subway.

    It’s worse than that. Consider this study:

    “Elevated airborne exposures of teenagers to manganese, chromium, and iron from steel dust and New York City’s subway system.”
    Environ Sci Technol. 2004 Feb 1;38(3):732-7.

    On the other hand… the EM fields might remove the metal dust from the air. So it’s an environmental dead heat!

  83. English, MF, do you speak it? says:

    While EMF isn’t a problem, electromagnetic sensitivity (i.e. hypochondria triggered by EMF exposure) is: [skeptoid.com]

  84. @dmuth: I second.

    @WalterBellhaven: And those are the same people who spend hundreds on magnetic bracelets to realign their energies.

  85. BBF_BBF says:

    What you all don’t realize is that all the electric motors in Prius’ are AC motors. The DC power supply is converted into AC by inverters before driving the motor. So there *can* be an AC generated field inside the car.

    That said, the field probably not going to be large enough to hurt anything unless the motor is sitting right next to the person.

  86. geoffhazel says:

    Before you start worrying about the EMF from your hybrid car, put down your CELL PHONE.

    Guess it was a slow news day.

  87. Ragman says:

    Both AC and DC currents generate magnetic fields.

    So does anyone know what the EMF is on a maglev train??? Shouldn’t the Japanese be dropping dead from EMF exposure?

  88. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    If EMFs cause cancer, then my two 12″ Infinity Reference Subwoofers are going to KILL ME! …And I shall die happy!

    But they don’t, so I’ll have to die from excessive orgasm instead of a bass overdose.

    Oh well. I’ll still die happy.

  89. Radoman says:

    @ArdelisCeryneian: I’m afraid your skills as an Electrical Engineer may be somewhat lacking. Your “Electrical lesson” for the day, is in fact, utterly and completely incorrect.

    A)Wrong. Electromagnetic fields do indeed exist , despite your disbelief. As the name implies, the field can be viewed as the combination of an electric field and a magnetic field. [en.wikipedia.org]

    B)Wrong. EMF’s formal definition? It’s actually the acronym for Electromotive Force (Voltage), not Electromagnetic force. [en.wikipedia.org]

    C)Wrong. DC power in a line generates a field or step-down transformers wouldn’t work. [www.google.com]

    D) Again, wrong. DC generates a field as well.

    @Mad_Science: “Electormagnetism” isn’t really the correct spelling either. Make sure you’re correct before correcting someone. You’ve hardly shown yourself to have more knowledge about electricity by mistakenly correcting a spelling error. Splitting the spelling into Electro Magnetic Force is simply a way of directing peoples attention to what the acronym “EMF” stands for in the context of this article.

    Ya gotta be careful what you write on Consumerist because there is no Edit button. This stuff stays.

  90. DaoKaioshin says:

    what effect will this have on those induction-based car detectors they put in roads to trip traffic signals?

  91. Ron3KL says:

    Re the Honda story –
    The first generation Honda Civic Hybrid used an electical system of just 120volts.
    The second (current) generation uses 156volts.

    Hardly the high voltages of 33,000 to 230,000 volts used in transmission lines and substations that were the subject of the radiation studies carried out by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute!

    Given that domestic power cables are generally 110v to 250v the world over, the logic in this story is tenous at least.

  92. Ah yes, the EMF boogeyman, along with the ELF boogeyman. This is the same meritless bullshit that leads dumbasses to think that wearing a $200 magnetic bracelet will let them live forever.

    When microwave ovens came out in the 1970’s for general consumer use, there was a lot of people who were afraid of getting cancer. Older people especially who didn’t trust them. Because the general populace has no FUCKING CLUE what ionizing radiation is.

    Fuck you, Consumerist, for continuing to pander to the stupidity of the masses.

  93. wesrubix says:

    @Jeff the Riffer: AMEN!

    Consumerist, you are a consumer protection and advocacy blog. Nothing under that umbrella should allow you to spout incomplete and unscientific data as actual science. I’m very disappointed in your incomplete commentary on such claims regarding electromagnetic fields and personal health.

    And for not making one stink about a quote that an A.C. Meter is enough to detect these? That’s hogwash. Not only is an A.C. Meter the incorrect device to measure EM, it’s not even that accurate.

    Apparently Jay Slatkin isn’t familiar with any of the recent nonsense surrounding EM:
    – wifi causing sickness in the UK? Proved to be nonsense. Even children who were interviewed by the BBC said it was idiotic.
    – cell phones predisposing people to cancer: inconclusive. The technology has not existed long enough in a consistent state to provide proper controls for study. Moreover, people seem to forget how much Gamma Radiation (oh my god, GAMMA) comes from their TV sets.

    And therein is your failure when you posted this article: like Jeff the Riffer said: stupidity of the masses.

    Welcome to failure. I hope you can learn from this one.

  94. ArdelisCeryneian says:

    Dear; ArdelisCeryneian:
    A) No I am not wrong the Electric and Magnetic fields do exist separately without the other being around.
    B) I’ll give you that one.
    C) Except for an initial pulse to the secondary, when the DC is first applied , DC in the primary of a transformer will generate exactly nothing in the secondary ( except smoke if it is not current limited but that is also in the primary). Step down transformers lower voltage not frequency.
    D) Yes DC, in a wire, generates a static magnetic field but generates no radiation.

    Still an engineer Mike

  95. wackyvorlon says:

    Oh dear, consumerist thou has let me down! There is no evidence that electromagnetic fields cause us any harm whatsoever. This is very disappointing.

  96. wackyvorlon says:

    To clarify: The magnet field must *collapse* to induce a current in a nearby conductor. It must be moving. AC does this by changing polarity, chopped DC is similar. If I take a neodymium magnet, and hold it near a coil of wire, nothing will happen. I must move the magnet, causing the lines of force to cut across the wires.

    — VE3HOP, amateur radio hobbyist, and lover of RF

  97. Ragman says:

    Or, maybe Brian Collins had a ghost in his car.


  98. kc2idf says:

    I wrote a college paper on EMFs over 15 years ago. I set out to prove that they were dangerous, and ended up proving the opposite. Now gimme my hybrid.

  99. rfjason says:

    I left a message for the author letting him know what’s going on. Hopefully, he’ll take this idiotic post down and put up something a little smarter.

  100. Jay Slatkin says:

    Readers, when I wrote this article it was intended to convey that further hybrid safety testing might be a good idea. I did not mean to imply that hybrids are cancer-mobiles. I apologize if I offended your sensibilities. I do read and learn from your comments and will try to adjust my writing style so that we can avoid these misunderstandings. -Jay

  101. DanPVD says:

    “Driver, Brian Collins decided to test his Honda Insight with a Trifield meter. He received readings of 135 milligauss at the hip and 100 milligauss at the upper torso. Considering his VW Van only measures between 1-2 milligauss, he decided to sell his hybrid at a $7000 loss.”

    Wow, how nice of him to give away something he considered to be a such a health risk to someone else.

  102. Radoman says:


    A)You originally said, “There are Magnetic fields and there are Electric fields but there are no electromagnetic fields.” and that’s 100% wrong guy. Electromagnetic fields DO exist. [en.wikipedia.org]
    There’s no edit button, so everyone can still see what you said.

    B)We now agree is wrong, after I corrected you.

    C) You implied DC cannot generate an electromagnetic field, and several people in the thread corrected you. See: Step-down, step-up transformers. [en.wikipedia.org] You said, “Step down transformers lower voltage not frequency.” Yes, they do lower voltage. For example, by inductive transfer of a DC generated electromagnetic field. I never said they lower frequency. No one did. Again, no edit button, so everyone can see that’s true.

    D) Ever heard of a power inverter? You could not draw DC power from your cigarette lighter and turn it into AC power for your laptop if DC was incapable of generating and radiating an electromagnetic field. If it “generates” an electromagnetic field, as you’ve now admitted, then it “radiates” electromagnetism. This, by definition, is electromagnetic radiation. [en.wikipedia.org] The field doesn’t magically stop at the edge of the wire, it “radiates”. Even if you have to pulse it on and off for it for be effective, DC still generates an electromagnetic field in a transformer.

    It’s cool that your job title says you’re an Engineer, but I think you’re a bit confused on a few basic principals of electronics.

    I didn’t reply to be hostile, I just don’t want people to be misinformed. Mad_Science seemed to think that you were right, and that my understanding of electronics was, “from 1865”. Obviously I didn’t want this to remain uncorrected. There needs to be some reliable info out there. Correcting such blatant misinformation is what any knowledgeable good Samaritan would do..

    Take Care.

  103. Lucky225 says:

    @Jay Slatkin:

    Nonsense Jay, I think this article was informative to the consumer. Hybrids masquerade as some environmentally friendly goodie-2-shoes car when they are not. Manufacturers and the oil companies are in bed with each other, there’s a reason it’s hybrid — it still takes gasoline, and we’ll be dependent on gasoline as an energy source for the next 50 years until someone gives an ACTUAL alternative that makes sense.

  104. docwhat says:

    It’s one thing to say it needs more testing, but this isn’t why. More interesting problems are things like teaching fire departments how to deal with electric car fires and such.

    “Neysa Linzer, 58, says that since she bought her Honda Civic Hybrid her blood pressure has increased and that she has fallen asleep at the wheel 3 times.”

    Sounds like she has sleep apnea. This has nothing to do with EMF.


  105. dirk1965 says:

    This artical is a bunch of unscientific bull shit. I worked in a power plant for 12 years which subjected me to more EMF’s than any normal person in the public… and there’s not a damn thing wrong with me. Consumerist…Why dont you stop spreading false rumors about something you obviously know nothing about!

  106. YokoDadlet says:

    I am disturbed that the much-respected Consumerist would write an article lending validity to pseudoscience of any sort, especially EMF scare-stories! Studies have shown that there is no link between EMFs and cancer, nor could there be. The only possible way for an electromagnetic field to interfere with the body is by influencing the components of the body that have magnetic properties. The thing is, there are none! Not even the iron found in blood is attracted to magnets – it is actually in an altered chemical state, rendering it non-magnetic. Please do not contribute to the poor science education of our nation by publishing these sorts of stories.

    References: http://medgadget.com/archives/2006/07/pseudoscience_f_1.html http://www.csicop.org/sb/9509/rothman.html http://physics.syr.edu/courses/modules/PSEUDO/pseudo_main.html http://io9.com/383293/the-pseudo+sciences-youre-most-likely-to-see-in-the-next-50-years

  107. S-the-K says:

    @Jaysyn: Don’t you mean break out the tinfoil underpants?

    I wonder how much EMF they have in their home and their workplace? Presumably they spend more time there than in their car? How much radiation are they getting from their cell phone irradiating their reproductive organs (when mounted on the hip or pocket) and brain (when mounted on their ear)?

    This sounds like people wanting free money from corporations and trial lawyers wanting money from deep-pocketed corporations.

  108. BonnieMoira says:

    Did it occur to anyone that driving a car is possibly the most dangerous
    thing anyone can do?

    And, yes, the earth’s magnetic field may be stronger than the reading
    measured in this car.

    Perhaps the magnetic field from a car stereo speaker located in the door
    is stronger. Car
    stereos might kill you, yeah, that’s the ticket. :)

    I have no proof to support any of the above, except for driving a car
    being one of the most
    dangerous human activities.