Israel Preps World's First Hybrid Car Radiation Scale

Tal Bronfer
by Tal Bronfer
israel preps world s first hybrid car radiation scale

Hybrid cars may be green, but are they dangerous? According to Israel’s of Environmental Protection, this may be the case. A research committee funded by the ministry studied radiation from hybrid vehicles over the course of the last nine months, found ‘surplus’ radiation in some models sold in Israel and worldwide, reports Israel’s The Marker.

Not exactly flower power, the radiation in question is cast by the electromagnetic field made by alternating current (AC) flowing from the batteries in the back to the engine up front. The medical implications of this non ionizing radiation, similar to radiation from cellphone antennas, are not yet clear.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) recommends a limit of 1,000 mG (milligauss) for a 24 hour exposure period. While other guidelines pose similar limits, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) deemed extended exposure to electromagnetic fields stronger than 2 mG to be a “possible cause” for cancer. Israel’s Ministry of Health recommends a maximum of 4 mG.

The ministry’s foray into this topic is a culmination of a public outcry resulting from publications in the media regarding possible dangers from radiation in hybrid cars. Last year, Israeli automotive website Walla! Cars conducted a series of tests on the previous generation Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Honda Civic Hybrid, and recorded radiation figures of up to 100 mG during acceleration. Measurements also peaked when the batteries were either full (and in use) or empty (and being charged from the engine), while normal driving at constant speeds yielded 14 to 30 mG on the Prius, depending on the area of the cabin.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection is expected to publish the results of the study this week. The study will group hybrids sold in Israel into three different radiation groups, reports Israel’s Calcalist. It’s expected that the current-gen Prius will be deemed ‘safe’, while the Honda Insight and Civic Hybrid (as well as the prev-gen Prius) will be listed as emitting ‘excessive’ radiation.

If published, the radiation scale will be the first of its kind in the world, even as hybrid cars top the sale charts in Japan. Local Toyota and Honda dealers, of course, are not exactly gleaming with joy, and already hired the services of two lobbying companies to try and call off the publication of the new scale. The two companies, in a surprising display of unison, claim that many electronic devices and gasoline powered cars emit similar and even higher levels of radiation, and deem the study unfair due to the lack of participation of conventional cars.

Recently, the research committee stirred the public conscious as it advised the Israeli Police against adding hybrid cars to its mostly diesel powered fleet, due to medical hazards to officers exposed to radiation for lengthy periods of time.

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  • Fincar1 Fincar1 on Mar 02, 2010

    The more things change, the more they remain the same. James Thurber, about eighty years ago (or so), in one of his reminiscences of his youth, wrote about his grandmother, who was worried that electricity would leak out of the new-fangled wall outlets when they didn't have anything plugged into them. I'm laughing today too.

  • NickD NickD on Mar 02, 2010

    Before you start worrying about magnetic fields from your hybrid, you'd better throw out all your household appliances. The magnetic fields (the specific kind of radiation you're talking about here) from household appliances like ovens, microwaves and vacuum cleaners (most anything with a motor) runs 10 to 500 mGauss - as larger or larger than the hybrid fields, but still below the 1000 mGauss health limits set by the EU, WHO, etc. for these kinds of higher frequency intermittent magnetic fields (see this EU report for an example: ). The limits you cite from the IARC relate to constant long term constant exposure to low frequency magnetic fields in residential environments (e.g living under power lines). You can read about that very different situation here ( ). By using the IARC limits for hybrids (or your blender), you (and the Israeli Environment Ministry) are making a classic apples to oranges comparison mistake. If the IARC limits applied to all the electrical stuff we use on a daily basis, we'd all be braindead by now.

    • Tal Bronfer Tal Bronfer on Mar 03, 2010

      Hey, I'm just reporting. Personally, I find this as another classic example of "we're smarter than anyone else" case, typical of my government. Israel operates under different EMR limits, and recommends, as stated, a maximum of 4 mG for extended exposure. For some people, the car is considered an 'extended exposure' environment. While I'm wary of the populistic approach, I'm all in for a non-biased study and intelligent dialogue. Unfortunately, this isn't the way it's been happening.

  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys for that money, it had better be built by people listening to ABBA
  • Abrar Very easy and understanding explanation about brake paint
  • MaintenanceCosts We need cheaper batteries. This is a difficult proposition at $50k base/$60k as tested but would be pretty compelling at $40k base/$50k as tested.
  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?