NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 19, 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, says John Dale Dunn, a policy advisor for the American Council on Science and Health.

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.
  • Various 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 (E.M.F.), and have done studies on the association of cancer risks with living near high-voltage utility lines.
  • 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.

This issue illustrates the double standard regarding environmental activists, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. 

"Environmental activists routinely use the Precautionary Principle as a weapon against technologies and products they do not like," Burnett explains.  "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."

Source: John Dale Dunn, "Hybrid Vehicle Owners Report Adverse Health Effects," Heartland Institute, July 1, 2008; and Jim Motavalli, "Fear, but Few Facts, on Hybrid Risk," New York Times, April 27, 2008.

For Times text:


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