Hybrid Vehicle Owners Report Adverse Health Effects

Published July 1, 2008

Purchasers of hybrid vehicles, which are subsidized by the federal government and championed by environmental activists as a way to reduce gasoline consumption, are trading in their vehicles because of health fears concerning electromagnetic fields created by the hybrid batteries.

Owners Report Health Harms

As noted in an April 27 article in The New York Times, some hybrid vehicle owners are complaining of a variety of health problems allegedly caused by strong electromagnetic currents from the cars’ batteries. Reported ailments and concerns include rising blood pressure, drowsiness behind the wheel, and higher leukemia risks.

Drivers who have given up their hybrids have reportedly documented “dangerously high” electromagnetic fields, leading them to conclude driving the vehicles is not worth risking blood for oil.

“Their concern is not without merit,” reported the Times. “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.”

Enviro Double Standard

After fears in the 1990s that high-voltage lines might be causing adverse health effects, the National Research Council convened a blue-ribbon committee, chaired by Dr. Charles F. Stevens, and reviewed more than 500 studies on electromagnetic fields and health effects. They found electricity and electromagnetic fields do not cause disease or cancer.

“There is no research definitively linking hybrid batteries to adverse human health effects,” said H. Sterling Burnett, senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. “This is not to say that the issue is not worth investigating. However, it illustrates the double standard regarding environmental activists.

“Environmental activists routinely use the Precautionary Principle as a weapon against technologies and products they do not like,” Burnett explained. “They assert that until and unless a product they oppose can be definitively proven to be safe, the product must be banned. Now, however, when consumers and some scientists assert that one of the activists’ pet products may be causing serious health harms, the activists act like they have never heard of the Precautionary Principle.”

John Dale Dunn, M.D., J.D. ([email protected]) is a member of the civilian emergency medicine faculty at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, Fort Hood, Texas, and a policy advisor for the American Council on Science and Health.