Hbig ears, raging headaches and flickering eyes. Not only those who wear aluminum hats worry about electromagnetic radiation in their cars. Are cars exposed to new technology such as plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles increasing?
Most people understand electrosmog to be electromagnetic environmental compatibility (EMVU). Electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields can affect their environment and lead to dizziness and nausea in people, stimulate sensory organs, nerves and muscles or heat tissue. This generally also applies to passengers in vehicles.
Not all electromagnetic fields are dangerous
Many electromagnetic fields occur in the environment, for example the earth’s magnetic field, says Sarah Drießen from the Research Center for Electro-Magnetic Environmental Compatibility at the Institute for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine (femu) in Aachen.
“These weak fields are harmless to humans. But there are artificially generated fields, such as in the lower frequency range on high-voltage lines, which can be harmful to people in the immediate vicinity. “
So that nothing happens here, the cables are hung at a height that is inaccessible to humans. “This ensures that the limit values are adhered to directly on the ground below.”
Fields generated by technical applications must comply with certain limit values so that they do not cause any health consequences. This applies to seat heating as well as to the generator in the car, says Drießen. “The few data available on this show that the limit values are mostly adhered to.”
Reduce radiation and protect vehicles
Jürgen Schwarz from Mercedes distinguishes between two areas when it comes to electromagnetic radiation. “First of all, there is radiation from the vehicle.” It should not damage or disturb people or other technical equipment, according to the department head for antennas and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).
“On the other hand, no other radiation from the outside must damage or disrupt the vehicle or internal services, so we have to protect the vehicles.”
“There is not just one value in a car, but many different and different measurement methods,” says Schwarz. Different components such as chips, control units or cellular radio modules with antennas produce different frequencies.
External antenna reduces radiation exposure
But what about the radiation that we know from cell phones? A possible health risk is also being discussed with cell phone radiation. “However, it has not been proven whether there is a causal connection between the use of a cell phone and an increased risk of a brain tumor,” says Sarah Drießen.
In order to keep as much radiation out of the car as possible, drivers should not use their mobile phones in the car, but use an external antenna. Some manufacturers offer a telephone control unit as an option.
“Cell phones regulate the radiation output independently. The worse the reception, the stronger it shines, ”says Schwarz.
In order to keep the frequency fields as low as possible, Mercedes vehicles transmit via an integrated LTE external antenna. This also improves reception and thus the voice quality.
“The values in the vehicle are lower than with a cell phone that users hold directly to their ear, even if the cell phone falls well below the limit value,” explains Schwarz.
Try different construction methods
Even during the development of new vehicles, Mercedes simulates and examines various magnetic fields, tries out different locations of individual components in the concept phases in order to keep the magnetic fields in the interior as low as possible.
Where the positioning is determined, for example in the case of wiring harnesses, these are shielded. For this purpose, modern bodies are designed in such a way that they keep frequencies away from the interior as much as possible.
Incidentally, it is not true that plug-in hybrids or e-cars produce more magnetic fields that are harmful to motorists. The same legal limit values apply to all drive types.
E-cars and hybrids also offer advantages, according to Schwarz: With a voltage network higher than 12 volts, i.e. 48 volts or 400 volts for e-vehicles, the voltage increases, but the magnetic field becomes smaller – and with it the magnetic radiation.
Radiation exposure at the e-filling station
The situation is different when the e-car is charged externally: Car owners who are directly at the charging station during the charging process are exposed to higher loads. According to Schwarz, however, you don’t have to worry because the limit values are always adhered to.
According to its own statements, Volkswagen falls well below the legal standards and places high demands on the components used. Electromagnetic compatibility and electromagnetic environmental compatibility would be taken into account in the early development phase and compliance with them ensured throughout the entire development process.
Constructive measures include the laying of main power cables outside the metal-shielded interior (Faraday cage), encapsulated drives and specially designed filters for the high-voltage components.
With the new ID.3 electric vehicle, VW has therefore kept the cables between the battery and the electric motor very short. In order to keep the load as low as possible, VW also recommends the use of an external antenna or the hands-free system when making calls. Then there can only be hot ears from long conversations.