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- Cars and health (ô tô và sức khỏe)
- Why electric cars may be hazardous to your health
Why electric cars may be hazardous to your health
Biên tập viên: Trần Tiến Phong
Đánh giá: Trần Trà My, Trần Phương Phương
Electric cars are safe - aren’t they?
Electric cars may be “safer” for the environment, but not necessarily safer for your long-term health.
While battery-operated alarm clocks and small electronics are safer than ones that plug into the wall outlet, when you talk about a battery-operated electric car, it’s an entirely different animal. Electric cars do run on battery cells, but they contain a carload of electrical wiring and computerized systems to make the car run smoothly and efficiently. This translates into high electrical and magnetic fields that can be hazardous to those with electrical sensitivities.
The official jury is out on whether hybrid cars emit magnetic fields that are dangerously higher than those given off by regular gasoline-powered vehicles, but then again, the so-called jury is also still out about whether EMFs of all shapes and sizes, including radio frequency radiation, are biologically harmful. Using the ICNIRP standards in to say anything is safe is pretty much like saying if you don’t internally combust after 30 seconds inside a hybrid car, then it must be completely safe to spend a third of your life in it, as many hybrid owners do, because their jobs require them to be in the car for several hours a day. It’s basically the same kind of mis-representation of “What is Safe?” that the American public has been fed over the proliferation of wireless technologies.
Eco-friendly does not equal healthy
A few of my clients who are electrically sensitive can tolerate a few gas-powered vehicles, but become very ill whenever they drive or ride in a hybrid or electric car. As the canaries of a growing environmental illness epidemic, these “test subjects”, in my opinion, are proof enough that the concept of the electric car is fundamentally flawed because it does not take into account the potential toll on human health this “eco-friendly” invention might take.
So while the electric car movement may satisfy the political sensibilities of tree-huggers and “green energy” advocates, I’m not an fan of electric cars because I see potential damaging long-term health effects for people who spend a lot of time in these cars.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch
In fact, as part of my work as an EMR consultant, I’ve heard that classic cars from the 60’s era and earlier can be some of the lowest emission for EMFs because these cars didn’t have any of the fancy electronic fuel injection systems, computer-controlled consoles and monitoring systems, and electric seat adjustments. Everything was old school mechanical or analog. With the advent of the computer chip, cars became perhaps “smarter,” more “convenient”, and “safer”–particularly with the advent of our high-tech air bag and safety restraint systems, which I’m all for–but they aren’t necessarily healthier for you in the long term.
In the end, it’s always a trade-off: modern conveniences like mobile connectivity, sensors that adjust almost everything, navigation systems that tell you where you want to go, fewer carbon emissions, and reduction of consumption of fossil fuels in exchange for a cumulative cloud of invisible contaminants whose devastating cumulative health effects are just now beginning to surface.
Green energy isn’t cheaper
This may be the biggest understatement of the year, considering the boatload of money the government has spent trying to build green energy and convert people to alternative energy sources. I am a proponent of green and sustainable living. I also believe new “green technology” comes with another hefty price tag–not just a monetary one.
Take CFL light bulbs, for instance. They cost about three to five times more than an incandescent bulb, and they also give off a magnetic field of around 10 mG within about a twelve to fifteen-inch radius of the bulb. Put a CFL lightbulb in your reading/crafting lamp, and you’re likely exposing your brain to a high AC magnetic field for long periods of time. Break the bulb, and you have a hazardous waste spill in your home. But aren’t you glad you’re saving a penny on your electric bill and don’t have to change them for five years?
Sure electric cars don’t use as much gas. They don’t emit as many carbon-based by-products. But they ARE polluting your personal environment with higher levels of esmog.
My point is that green energy may be cleaner in one respect, but it is not without it’s tradeoffs in resulting electro-pollution, which has long-term damaging effects that can’t be ignored, even for the average healthy person. And it certainly isn’t cheaper when you factor in all the potential health costs. I believe alternative energy certainly has a future, but I also think the people who develop these technologies must consider other health aspects of their creations, so they don’t just swap one kind of pollution with another.
The dragon of new technologies that support electric cars
One of the most glaring deficiencies in the electric car is the short distance it can travel before needing to be recharged. A group of researchers at Stanford University have begun developing a “high-efficiency charging system that uses magnetic fields to wirelessly transmit large electric currents between metal coils placed several feet apart. The long-term goal of the research is to develop an all-electric highway that wirelessly charges cars and trucks as they cruise down the road.”
You probably can guess that the wording of this intro paragraph already gives me cold sweats. Terms like “magnetic fields,” “wirelessly,” and “large electric currents” raise all sorts of questions as to the safety of this technique. It does not make me feel any better to know that an MIT team experimenting with the same technology, called magnetic resonance, observed that “the magnetic field appeared to have no impact on people who stood between the coils.”
Which means, of course, that there is a strong magnetic field being generated. Magnetic resonance imaging can cause a huge crisis for ES individuals, so the statement that the field appeared to have no impact on the human guinea pigs is about as comforting as saying they didn’t explode or melt.
The rest of the article goes on to envision how the entire national highway system would be outfitted with magnetic resonance coils, all generating magnetic fields that would charge your car battery as you drive.
And though kudos should be given to the research director who stressed that determining safety of the technology was first and foremost, he admits that 3% of the energy transfer could be lost as “potentially harmful radiation.”
Given the country’s track record of using outdated and far too lenient standards for determining safe exposure, I wonder what conclusions they will come to about this new potential form of polluting every highway in the country. And the expense of “revamping” the entire highway system.