EMF / EMR (RF, ELF) In Cars


In short

  1. All cars emit some level of EMF magnetic and electric fields from the electric and electronic parts and devices, some more and some less. 
  2. Modern cars have wireless and cellular technologies embedded in them. It can be a wireless set of keys, A multi media system with WIFI and Bluetooth and/or a cellular modem. It could be a wireless alarm/security systems with GPRS/UMTS/LTE modem or a tracking device.
  3. Operating a smart phone inside the car may worsen the RF levels inside it. 

What can we do?

  1. Use your EMF (RF+ELF) meter to measure the car before you buy it. Prefer the lowest EMF car. 
  2. Turn OFF all wireless and cellular function that you can and see fit to turn OFF such as the WIFI function on your car's multimedia system, or the DATA connection on your cell phone.
  3. Change wireless and cellular technologies for wired none wireless if and when possible.
  4. Considering the option of giving up Wireless and cellular systems that can not be exchanged with wired systems (consult with your car service guy what can be done).
  5. For EHS people - Install RF Blocking film over the car's windows, if and where the law and regulations in your country permits, in order to reduce exposure from external RF sources such as cell phone towers. 
  6. For EHS people - Wear RF Protection Hats and Clothes while you drive in the car in order to reduce exposure from external RF sources such as cell phone towers.


EMF Radiation in Cars - General

A vehicle is an Electro-Electronic-Mechanical machine, with electric, electronic(some time wireless), magnetic, devices and parts. These devices and parts emit magnetic and electric fields in different frequencies.

It is all "within the guidelines"

It is possible that the manufactures or the car, its' importers or the dealers of the car might tell you that the EMF radiation levels of the car you're interested in were tested and were found to be compatible with the current safety standards. There are clearly right. But if you are familiar with EMF safety standard guidelines lines you should already know that the so called safety standards are outdated, based on life threatening effect, are not based on any biological risk and are generally very high. In same, cases the devices are not even tested for safety since their output power is considered to be very low (and most of the time no testing is required). H,however this does not mean that the emission from these devices is safe or durable, specially in the case of EHS people.

Can we use protection?

The protection of the inside space of a car from radiation emission from inside the car parts and devices can be very expensive and complicated. In the case of ELF protection, it is very expensive and can't always be applied correctly in the car. In the cases of RF sources inside the car, the right approach should be to remove them, if possible. In the case of RF radiation from outside the car, RF protection film can be installed (according to your country's law) on some of the windows. In some cases, protection will be impossible. For EHS people, the use of RF Protection Hats and Clothes for EHS people might also help to some extent. There for we recommend on test EMF levels (both ELF magnetic, electric and RF radiation) before buying the car, to make sure the EMF levels in the car is suitable for you.

What can be done? 

If Radiation exposure issues are important to you and you want to reduce exposure also when driving your car, or in the case you are suffering from EHS and you need the exposure inside the car to be minimum as possible, we advice to check and test EMF levels in every car you are interested in , while using a home use EMF meter. According to what the meter shows you, you will have more info to make a knowledgeable decision if to buy the car or not.
The EMF tests should be done both in ELF magnetic field, ELF Electric field and RF radiation. The tests should be done over the sits, where your head, legs and body are going to be as a driver or a passenger, below the steering wheel and next to the paddles. It is also recommended to scan the car for devices which emit RF radiation.
 All tests should be done in an environment with low EMF, so the reading will be of the radiation emitted from within the car and not from outside. 

ELF magnetic field measurements next to the car paddles ELF magnetic field measurements next to the car paddles ELF magnetic field measurements next to the car paddles 
מדידת שדה מגנטי בתדר נמוך ליד רגלי הנהג ELF magnetic field measurements next to the car paddles 
ELF magnetic field measurements next to the car paddles (acceptable levels)

ELF magnetic field measurements bellow and next to the wheel  ELF magnetic field measurements next to the car paddles ELF magnetic field measurements next to the car paddles
ELF magnetic field measurements under the steering wheel (acceptable levels)

ELF magnetic field measurements on the sits ELF magnetic field measurements on the sits  ELF magnetic field measurements on the sits
ELF magnetic field measurements on the sits (acceptable levels)

Next we will try to note the different EMF sources inside a car and explain a bit about them. The following review is only general and not complete.

ELF magnetic fields in regular vehicles

ELE EMF(mainly magnetic fields but also electric fields) will usually be emitted from the following systems in most vehicles. The exposure level of the driver and passengers will be dependable on the level of ELF EMF emitted from the devices and the distance of the driver/passenger from it:
  1. Alternator/Distribute - Creates electric current and voltage in the car. It operation is based on magnetic fields, and there for it is a source for these fields. Usually installed in the far end of the engine compartment, but in some cars will be installed closer to the driver or passenger(will cause higher ELF magnetic field exposure).
  2. Battery - The battery itself is a DC power source, there for usually(most of the time) will not emit AC EMF. But might emit DC voltage field and momentary changing currents and fields(for example when the engine is being started), that EHS people might respond to, specially in case the battery is close to the driver and passengers. In most of the cases, the battery will be installed in the engine compartment , but I have seen cars that the battery was installed under the driver's or passenger's sits.
  3. Relay Switches - Some of the car electric control system is based on Relay Switches. When a relay switch is operated, an ELF magnetic fields are created. This happens every time you press the break or the turn signal, and in many other operations. 
  4. Car& engine computer - Source for ELF and EMI magnetic and electric fields.
  5. Tires (when spinning) - Tires have metal cords in it. When they are spine in the earth natural magnetic field, an electric current is created in these cords, which creates an ELF magnetic field around the tire(only when the tire is spine).
  6. Small Electric engine (like the wiper engines) - Creates ELF magnetic fields when turned ON
  7. Fans and Air Condition system - Creates ELF magnetic fields when turned ON, In the case of the fan, the level of the field depends on the speed.
  8. Other electric and electronic systems in the cabin - For example: Electric steering control box, Electric paddles control box, Air bag control box...
Modern engine compartment , lots of ELF sources
In the picture - Modern engine compartment , lots of ELF sources

ELF EMF radiation from special systems

  1. Sit heater system - When On some ELF magnetic fields will be present on the sits.
  2. Electric sit position system - Some ELF magnetic field will be present when changing the position of the sits. If the system was designed wrong, ELF magnetic field will be present all the time.
  3. Stop&drive systems - ELF and Mid frequency emitted from the electronic paddles(if exist), and from the control unit.
  4. Audio-sound-multimedia-speakers systems - ELF from the multimedia system and from the speakers when loud music is played.
    RF might be emitted from the multimedia systems if Bluetooth or WIFI are enabled.
Electric sit heaters
In the picture - Electric sit heaters

speakers emit ELF magnetic fields when in high volume
In the picture - speakers emit ELF magnetic fields when in high volume

ELF EMF radiation in Hybrid and Electrical cars

Hybrid and Electric cars generally have more electric and electronic systems than diesel or gasoline cars. Tests done in 2009 for the Israeli Environmental Protection Ministry mapped the levels of EMF magnetic fields emitted from the electromagnetic systems in several models of Hybrid cars that were available in Israel at that time. 
At first look, there seems to be only some little issues, and the Average Levels on each sit are 5.5mG at the most(not low). But If you look deeper into the report you will see that the max levels measured on some of the sits, in some of the scenarios, reached much higher picks and average measurements. 

From the test, I did using a home use meter in one model of hybrid car, and tests done in Israel by others, it seems that indeed there are ELF magnetic fields emitted from the hybrid car systems. This is only logical since hybrid and electric cars have much more electromagnetic parts and systems. Some of them are in the following list:
  1. Electric motors - More electric motors, including the main drive electric motor, exist in an electric and hybrid car.
  2. Battery system - Stores the power for the electric motor. ELF will be emitted specially next to the battery and the fan (if installed in or next to it) when charging or when powering the electric motors.
  3. Battery chargers - ELF radiation will be emitted while charging from the charger and from the fan (if exist).
  4. Electric Currents conductors - Usually stretch from the batteries to the engine. Higher ELF will be emitted when the electric motor is in use or when charging the batteries.

RF radiation in the car it self (from embedded systems)

  1. In car wireless control systems - In some of the cars there are wireless control and communication systems that are transmitting data and commands from one device to the other. One example of that are wireless in-tube air pressure sensors.  Each and every one of these systems is different. In some, there is a constant "hand-shack" communication, in other just a "once in a while" transmission.
  2. Key-less ignition and door open systems -  In the last few years we see more and more wireless key-less ignition systems, and the more advance key-less door open system. Now you don't need to use the key, just hold it in your hand or pocket, come close to the car and the doors of the car will be open,  a green light on the "Start" button will mark that the engine is ready to be started. These systems usually use Radio wave to create the communication between the key and the system. In some cases, the radiation emission is law, in some higher. In some cases the emission is temporary or "One time" , in some it is constant. 
Mechanical engine start key
In the picture - Mechanical engine start key 

Mechnical engine start key
In the picture - wireless key-less engine start button 

RF Radiation in special car systems 

The following products and devices are usually add-ons to a car, sometime as part of a service or accessories kit. These devices emit RF radiation.
  1. Bluetooth hands-free devices - hand free systems that comes with the car or are added (video - https://youtu.be/puLsyrWNzcI).
  2. Multimedia systems with 3G/4G, WIFI, Bluetooth communication.
  3. Car fleet control and tracking systems with a cellular modem.
  4. Driving safety systems with a cellular modem.
  5. Car security & alarm systems with a cellular modem.
  6. Wireless central looking system.
  7. Car Radar systems.
  8. FM transmitters for multimedia.
  9. WIFI routers for cars (hot-spots).
  10. Active GPS Antenna -  http://norad4u.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-reason-for-rf-emission-from-new.html

RF radiation from Bluetooth hand-free car kit
In the picture - Bluetooth hand-free unit in the car
 (and the RF radiation)

Code panel of a car security system
In the picture - Code panel of a car security system

Car Multimedia system with WIFI and Bluetooth capabilities
In the picture - Car Multimedia system with WIFI and Bluetooth capabilities

RF emission for an In car WIFI hot-spot (from multimedia system)
In the picture - RF emission for an In car WIFI hot-spot (from a multimedia system)

RF radiation because of the use of cellphones and wireless devices in the car

Most cars have a metal body and doors. This metal body can block RF radiation from outside the car. This can creates less cellular reception inside the car, which means that your cellphone (if you have one and use it in the car) might transmit higher levels of RF radiation(compared to the level it may produce outside the car). In addition some of whatever RF Radiation that will be produced by the cell phone, or other wireless device inside the car, will be reflected from the metal body back to the inside of the car. 

Using cellphones while in the car

If you need to use a mobile phone to make calls during driving the car, we recommend the use of a build-in car phone with an external RF antenna. This is the best safest way to communicate while driving, both from the driving safety point of view and the RF exposure perspectives.

In case that you don't have a build-in car phone, the next best option is to attach the mobile phone next to the front window (if the window is not coated with aluminium-metal based transparent film) which will allow better reception and usually less emission, and use the speaker phone option.  
The worse thing is to use the phone while driving, holding it in the hand(a major driving safety issue) or putting it in a low position inside the cabin(might emit more RF Radiation).
The use of a Bluetooth wireless hand-free kit will free your hands to drive but will create more RF inside the car.

Please note that in general, we don't recommend the use of wireless devices or smart phones inside the car.
In general, we don't recommend the use of a cellphone to talk while driving (driving safety issue).

Cell phone on the lower dash of the car
In the picture - Cell phone on the lower dash of the car

Cell phone attached to the front window in the car
In the picture - Cell phone attached to the front window in the car

Build in Car Cell phone with an external antenna
In the picture - Car Build in Cell phone with an external antenna

EMF radiation from sources outside the car

  1. Cellphone antennas on the sides of the roads - because of the heavy use in mobile phones in cars and in public transportation, we see more and more cellular towers alongside the roads. The radiation emitted from these cellular towers makes its way into your car. Some people will feel this radiation (Mid level EHS) and will suffer from headaches and other symptoms while driving or being in a car.
    Applying RF Blocking windows' films over the car's windows (subjected to the laws of your country) may help EHS people to drive and use cars with less pain(as long as there is not RF from inside the car). For EHS people, the use of RF Protection Hats and Clothes for EHS people might also help to some extent.
  2. ELF EMF from power lines on the sides and across the road - Most Mid level EHS people will feel it as well, but in this case the,re is very little one can do. 

Cellular towers and power lines along side the road
In the picture - Cellular towers and power lines along side the road