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Radiation In Cars – Practical Tips On How To Minimize It

Posted by Lloyd Burrell on April 14, 2010 under EMFs and travel | 42 Comments to Read

Owning and driving the latest hi-tech car can be such a thrill. Its true, automobile technology has given us so much, it really has transformed the driving experience.

But not necessarily for the better. Modern cars have too much electronics for my liking. GPS guidance, GPS tracking tools, remote controls, powered accessories, radio and music systems, bluetooth, the list goes on…..

All these appliances are emitters of electromagnetic fields (EMFs), in some shape or form, that are potentially harmful to your health.

Already, even the most basic model will have EMF exposures from things like the battery, fuse box, electronic dashboard, the spinning tyres etc. These newer gadgets only compound the EMF exposures and increase the risks.

The most vulnerable person is not necessarily the person who is driving the car. They do spend the longest periods of time in the car but the health effects are more linked to proximity and other factors; age, state of health, etc. If for instance you sit next to the battery or the bluetooth transmitter then then your exposures will be higher.

7 Ways To Minimize Your Exposure To Electromagnetic Radiation In Your Car

Here are some practical tips to help you to minimize your exposure to these electromagnetic fields:

1. Go for cars with minimum electronics. The older cars are generally better, provided other parameters are okay.

2.  Be reasonable with the music system. If your car is like a traveling disco then you are more at risk. The bigger the speakers the more powerful the EMFs, particularly magnetic fields. Again positioning is important, if you travel in the front, situate the speakers in the back of your vehicle to minimize exposure.

3.  Refrain from using GPS, Cellular or other communication gadgetry, these are sources of RF radiation .

4.  Remote control systems, such as remote-controlled door lock systems, remote-controlled fuel cap opener etc, avoid using them if possible, or hold them well away from your body if you do use them.

5.  Computer display screens, these do bother me. They are difficult to switch off on many cars, at worst you can get a technician to fit an on/off power switch.

6.  Avoid cars with built in WiFi or Bluetooth gadgets, because they will still be emitting radiation, even if you disable them – again unless you get a auto electrician to disconnect such devices.

7.  Go carefully through the owner’s manual to make sure that you know the safety features that have been set out by the manufacturer, often the dangers are spelt out very clearly here, you just need to take the time to read and then act upon them.

Ideally when buying a new car check it over with a “ EMF gauss meter”. The level of EMFs inside the car, particularly in the driver’s area, can be easily tested. Here is a table which shows the type of testing you need to do (the readings shown are not actual readings):

emfs in cars

Be methodical. This table focuses on the drivers magnetic field exposures, to be thorough you also need to test for electric fields and RF radiation. And also test for each of the passengers.

This is the kind of testing you need to do before buying your car. If you already own a car and you subsequently discover that the EMF levels are high, if the problem is magnetic fields there’s not much to be done.  It’s generally easier to sell the car and buy one with lower EMF levels.

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  • Mike Austin said,

    Thanks for the tips, Lloyd. In researching a new Prius, and in finding a note of caution about their EMF on Wikipedia, I began hunting thoroughly around this subject. My research provided a surprising range of good information and misinformation about the matter.

    I even talked with a man who had been interviewed by the NY Times about this, who had owned a Honda Insight and then sold it a loss after deciding the car’s EMF risks were greater than he was willing to personally accept. Personal choice is what this has come down to for me; whether or not one finds the manufacturer’s explanations satisfactory. No one in their right mind can assail another for deciding to do something arising from personal choice.

    Having lots of experience with corporations and governments, we all should understand by now that they frequently understate risks because they’ve no incentive not to. While it’s true that corporations, governments and attorneys provide valuable services and products for our use, it’s also equally true that modern history’s strewn with mistakes they willingly made which cost us measures of our health. Both significant money and power are derived from our cooperation with them, and those are stakes which incline them to overlook their downsides.

    This week I’m committing to a new car, and I’m armed with a TriField 100 XE meter. I’ve designed and printed straightforward forms on which to quickly jot the observed measurements to make the process smoother. Would I ever trust makers like Toyota, GM, Ford or Honda? No more than I would trust any government or corporate representative to consistently do the right thing on my family’s behalf.

  • Lloyd said,

    Mike,
    When you say “we all should understand by now that [corporations and governments] frequently understate risks because they’ve no incentive not to.” How right you are. When my sensitivity came on, such was my trust in corporations and governments, that I could not believe that my cell phone was making me so ill. Whether it’s because I’m so law-abiding (I’ve never even had a speeding ticket!) or just because I was plain stupid, I don’t really know, but I did spend two years in denial over this issue because there was no information out there to alert me to the dangers. When all along the cell phone industry and our governments knew of these dangers. It is, unfortunately, all about the money.
    I look forward to hearing about your EMF findings with your new car.
    Lloyd

  • Robin Sandorf said,

    Please continue this thread with more info. My brand new car makes me severely dizzy and produces headaches – consistent and repeatable. AAnother driver, independently reported similar symptoms. We are experimenting with turning things off, etc. I want to learn from others who have this problem and ways to take objective measurements. I read a gauss meter may not pick up all kinds of electro radiation. I am EMR sensitive and cannot use cell phones w.o. unpleasant after-effects. Until now, autos were no problem; but this brand new car is a real problem. Any new info? Support groups? Thank you.

  • Lloyd said,

    Robin,
    Unfortunately modern cars tend to be more of a problem than older models, so the short answer is trade in your new model for an older one; not very helpful I know.
    - if you are ES no meter will pick up EMR like you can, even one costing into the thousands. But a decent meter should enable you to pinpoint hotspots. If I hear of a support group on EMFs in cars I will let you know.

  • Hanna said,

    Hey! Would anyone know which is worse for you in regards to EMF: remote keyless entry (normal power doors), or satellite radio that I would never turn on (always have it on AM/FM)? If I don’t use the remote, but just use the key is there still radiation coming from the door, or is the door just the receiver and all radiation coming from the remote? Also with satellite, is it always searching for signal or only when I press the Sirius button. If I only have it on AM/FM will it still be picking up satellite and therefore receiving more radiation? I don’t know who to ask for such things, as all dealers will just laugh at you, and most know nothing about emf radiation.

  • Lloyd said,

    I have a remote keyless entry, a key fob, for my garage door. I have tested it with my meters and mine only gives off EMFs when I actually press on the button to open the garage door. I actually get readings of radio frequency, magnetic and electrical radiation. Personally I do not see this as a problem because the readings are low and there is only exposure when I actually press on the button, so it’s a few seconds a day.
    I also tested the motor block for the door and picked up no readings of any kind when it was not in operation. My understanding is that the key fob is the transmitter and the motor block the receiver, so there would never be any EMFs at the door end, except than those given off when the electric motor kicked in.
    Satellite radio, I cannot test because I do not have one installed in my car. An RF meter would tell you straight away if this was an issue.

  • Chris said,

    I took a prius 2010 for a testride wiht EMF meter, medium levels most parts in driver seat, but center console was real high, meter to the top high. That includes right leg and lower arm. No where was it below middle of meter.
    This prius was a executive, all inclusive.
    No new prius for me, to bad…
    My old Volvo S80 2001 has maximum level at roof, sunshield and side (still maxium at heas posistion). And all the legs and butt.
    My grand cherokee 1995 has medium to low level everywhere, if I remember correct it has medium at seat (power seat). The rest is in low range if any.
    I started checking after getting headache from driving Volvo 1,5 hours every day and noticed the headache stopped after driving wifes jeep for a few days…

  • Jim S said,

    I have 100 gauss reading at the fuse boxes in my car and I found that the car maker used plastic fuse boxes.The old cars had metal. The wires in these cars should be shielded as well.
    Now I am waiting on my delivery of silver lining, and I will shield myself, the areas I am referring to…
    My Q. Why are un-learning the things we have learned? Edison and Westinghouse knew this stuff…

  • Lloyd said,

    Good question, I have another one – Why are we learning a lot of useless things and at the same time more and more ignorant about those things which are important?

  • Ehab S. said,

    Shortly after getting a skoda with bluetooth and multifunctions steering wheel, I started suffering badly when using the hands free phone while driving. This is when I realized that I am ES 3 yrs back, at that time I decided to get rid of anything wireless and my life changed specially in the car. I did the following steps and it worked well: first I removed the bluetooth box from below front seat. Then I disallowed the speaker next to driver seat and finally I minimized the use of mob while inside vehicle . What bothers me most, is the high emf I measured close to 100 mG for the lower body half using a Trifield meter although it doesnt affect me directly since upper half region was close to 2 mG. I do spend almost 2 hrs per day driving and don’t like such high exposure …. Any ideas folks?

  • Bobbi said,

    I have purchased two cars (both high end 2003 models) that I can not drive or ride in. I later realized that they both had satellite radio. I spoke with the mechanic about it and he told me that there is no way to disconnect it because it is part of the electrical system. My understanding (which may be wrong and I am trying to clarify) is that when you turn on the car, this system is engaged. The car IS the antenna – You are sitting inside an antenna bubble if the car has satellite radio. If the car is on, the antenna is on.
    …does anyone know the truth of this?

  • Julia said,

    Dear Lloyd,
    What would be your recommendations to minimize exposure and when traveling by plane ? Could you write an article on EMFs/wi-fi on a plane, before take off and landing, during take off and landing, during flight ?

    It would help spread the word and alert fellow passengers, personnel, airlines.
    Thank you so much in advance.
    Julia

  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Julia
    I have written an article dealing with EMFs on planes, see http://www.electricsense.com/958/flying-and-electromagnetic-radiation/

  • Paul said,

    I’ve been a long time suffer from CFS/CFIDS and also EMF sensitivity

    My father got a Lexus recently, and I always sleep in the room next to it. It has been fine for about a year, but a few days ago, my brother programmed the GPS navigation system with our home address and I got very sick that night. I think it was probably activating the GPS signal that did it, it felt like waves of radiation were hitting me.

    We took it to the Lexus dealer and they reset all the data and factory settings, a few hours later, I still felt sick from it, and I haven’t slept well in 3 nights.

    A few things don’t make sense to me:

    1. Why didn’t the GPS make me sick before the addresses were put in? The map still showed our location on the grid prior to this, so it was active before.

    2. Why doesn’t shutting down the car now shut off the antenna and signals? Does the car’s battery cause the signal to remain now?

    3. Why didn’t deleting the data solve the problem?

    Thanks,
    Paul

  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Paul
    Radio frequency signals are sent from a constellation of satellites to your GPS, this is what enables your GPS to give you your position – which indicates that the GPS in your car is merely a receiver and therefore does not emit radiation. That’s for the theory. My experience suggests that GPS do emit radiation. My car does not have a GPS but I have used a portable GPS in my car and felt a reaction – I suspect we are in the realms of subtle energies.
    From what you are saying you are reacting to this GPS (assuming that’s the only thing that was changed when the car went into the garage). To answer your questions, and I am only speculating here:
    1. Re-programming the GPS caused the system to make more frequent satellite contact than was previously the case
    2. There are many systems that remain activated when you turn the engine off and take the key out, its possible that the GPS is one of them
    3. Because the original settings have not been re-instated
    2 possible solutions: 1. Park the car elsewhere and/or 2. Have the sat nav electrically deactivated (power supply switched off).

  • Branden Cohen said,

    How do we deactivate blue tooth already installed in my Toyota Tundra 2011 Truck? Thanks, Branden

  • Lloyd said,

    It is a specialized job, I suggest you contact your Toyota dealer or get an auto electrician to disconnect your Bluetooth for you.

  • Sue said,

    Thanks everyone for your input on the new cars. I now know what to look for, and what to avoid. And best wishes to all of you who have a newer car and have discovered they are affecting you when driving.

  • Robin said,

    Having headache / brain fog issues with my car. Not consistent but when it happens it’s very unpleasant and takes a long time to go away. The model year is 2008. No gps or satellite that I am aware of. Hate to get rid of the car because I do not know what problem I am trying to escape. alternator? tpms? unshielded cables? Just don’t know how to pick a replacement if I don’t know what the problem is. I’m surprised that more people aren’t reporting issues. Are there only 20 people in the entire United States that have odd issues with cars? I’d love to hear from people who have solved problems with their cars. What was the source of the signal? What was the fix?

  • Paula Camacho said,

    Hi LLoyd,
    I am shopping for a new car and ind they are all high with emfs. yet I want the additional safety features, and high gas mileage. I have ruled out hybrids and electric cars, sadly, and am now looking at a Mazda 3 and a Volkswagon Sportwagon Jetta. The readings are actually pretty confusing on my Trifeld meter.Is there any info you can give me about cars and emfs or a website you can direct me to?
    Paula

  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Paula
    The specifications in modern day cars are changing all the time, one Honda Civic may look like another Honda Civic but it may not have the same levels of EMFs because of an ‘improvement’ (position of battery, new wiring etc.) . The only way you can be sure of the EMFs of the car you want to buy is to measure the EMFs yourself. The Trifield meter will give you some reliable readings for magnetic fields -these are usually the main concern in cars. Test in different positions, be methodical and note down your findings, see table above.

  • Walt Maken said,

    Sunday, March 24, 2013
    Lloyd,

    Thank you for your free pdf report.

    I have a question. In your report, you state, in part, that regarding the growing market of chips, diodes, etc. that are supposed to protect from EMF:

    “I haven’t tested them all but all the ones I have tested haven’t worked ”

    Would you please post a list of the specific ones you HAVE tested, as well as a list of the specific ones you HAVEN’T tested?

    Like you, I am also not an electrical engineer and I’m not a medical professional. However, as a former engineering designer and data processing manager I am definitely interested in understanding the details of matters. And in regards to being interested in knowing the details of which chips, diodes, etc. you’ve tested and which ones you haven’t, would you mind saying if you’ve specifically tested the diodes that you can see at energpolarit.

    Also, would you mind taking the time to peruse their testing results including reviewing their pdf linked info, and see how their information strikes you?

    Thanks,

    Walt Maken

  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Walt
    I can’t comment on every chip, diode, harmonizer on the market there are hundreds if not thousands of them. Rather than citing the names of products not to buy I prefer to concentrate on sharing what I do know to work.

  • Cynthia said,

    Oh man, I will be dead by morning! I just got a new Kia Optima…

  • Nancy said,

    I have bought a VW TDI sports wagon, because I have enjoyed the gas mileage with my older Jetta. This car comes with Bluetooth, navigation, Sirius radio, keyless entry, etc. I am grateful for the above comments/entries, because none of the people I have questioned have heard of negative reactions to these devices. I normally never get headaches, but seem to in this new car, especially with the Sirius on. It doesn’t sound like disabling the Bluetooth or other system will help. This car is wonderful otherwise. It seems that all the new cars have this stuff as fairly standard systems.

  • Lloyd said,

    Most new cars are equipped with these wireless devices…it could be the wireless or it could be the magnetic fields that are bothering you…I have noticed that the newer generation of cars have much higher magnetic fields, particularly at floor level. Before buying take some readings with an EMF meter and get the garage to disable as much wireless as possible.

  • Jan Frasier said,

    I have problems when driving my 1999 Camry.
    Question 1: Will buying grounding/earthing mats for the car help with any type of EMF/radiation?
    Question 2: Usually listen to CD’s…does turning the radio/cd player off (or the the volume down) make any difference in the level of EMF.

    Thanks,
    Jan

  • Lloyd said,

    I don’t recommend earthing in a high EMF environment it can be counter productive. (see http://www.electricsense.com/1861/using-earthing-to-combat-electromagnetic-pollution-my-review/). You need to establish whether the problem is RF radiation or magnetic fields with an EMF. If its magnetic fields through the floor you can shield (Giron is suitable for this) to reduce your exposure.
    Most people aren’t sensitive to the speakers in a car….I did have a period when I was reacting to this also….in which case for the time being traveling with the CD player off is best….you need to look at the problem more globally to improve your health….my free report will help you with this.

  • Bayouwoman said,

    I am extremely electrosensitve. Car travel is difficult and we are taking a trip next week. I ordered a Faraday Canopy this week and was wondering if placing it over me or parts of the car (I would be a passenger)would help protect from the EMFs in the vehicle?

  • Lloyd said,

    If you wrap yourself totally in the Faraday canopy it may protect you from RF emissions from things like cell towers, cell phones and WiFi but it won’t protect you from magnetic fields being created by the vehicle…these are usually the biggest EMF problem in cars….to shield you would need to use Giron or similar shielding materials having first measured with an EMF meter.

  • ron said,

    Hi Lloyd,
    I wanted to pass on some important information about how to easily disable the Bluetooth radiation in a Toyota Camry. I have a 2007 Camry. I took readings in the car with the Accustometer, no cell phone present, while the car was running. The readings were 0.50 v/m constant and spikes up to 1.25 v/m . The sound from the meter was very disturbing to hear. When the car was turned off the reading went to zero.
    After talking to my friend the salesman, he told me to go to the Bluetooth’s control panel – audio control – system setup – Initialize – Confirm – Confirm(again) – cancel . If your car is different talk to the dealer.
    After doing this I took another meter reading and no more Bluetooth radiation!!!!
    It bothers me to find out that I was being exposed all the time while driving and not using the phone!! I hope this will help others.
    Thank You,
    ron

  • Cara said,

    Hi Lloyd,

    I came across your site after experiencing pain (earache and body ache) from a newly installed bluetooth stereo system in my car.

    I drive for a living as a professional touring musician and recently returned home from a 7 week European tour where I had been renting cars that all came with factory-installed bluetooth stereo systems. I didn’t seem to be affected much by them (no earache, no body ache) though I know I am somewhat electric sensitive and work very hard at not being “married” to my mobile phone and other electrical items. I returned home a few days ago and have been preparing to head back out on tour, this time back in my own car (which I usually use whenever touring in North America). The speakers desperately needed replacing, and I thought while I was at it I’d replace the stereo with bluetooth capability so that I could go “hands free” (which is now law in many provinces in Canada), as well as have the ability to listen to music and audio books stored on my phone via the stereo system.

    The moment I drove away after the installation I noticed my body started vibrating and my ears started aching, as though I was inside a microwave. At first I thought it was perhaps the new speakers, that they were too hot in the high frequency range, and that was what was causing the pain. I have hyper-sensitive hearing and am easily affected by audio and have had severe physical reactions in the past (nausea, earache, vibration). But then I started doing some research and realized that it could very likely be a combination of both the bluetooth stereo and the speakers. I was just really surprised as I hadn’t been affected by the bluetooth stereos in the rental cars I had just been using.

    What do you recommend for people who travel for a living (driving thousands of Kilometers like myself) in their own cars and who need a car stereo? Are there some car stereos with bluetooth that aren’t as severe as others, or is it really a matter of finding a stereo system that doesn’t use bluetooth and relying instead on input jacks and usb jacks for attaching a phone or ipod? What do most people do when they need to go handsfree for phone calls in the car? I try not to talk on the phone much to begin with, but sometimes when I’m traveling I need to take calls and make calls. Just trying to sort out my best options, and if there’s a way to figure out if it is indeed the bluetooth on the stereo that is affecting me. Curious what others have done…

    With many thanks from Canada,

    Cara

  • Lloyd said,

    Hi Cara
    “What do you recommend for people who travel for a living (driving thousands of Kilometers like myself) in their own cars and who need a car stereo? Are there some car stereos with bluetooth that aren’t as severe as others, or is it really a matter of finding a stereo system that doesn’t use bluetooth and relying instead on input jacks and usb jacks for attaching a phone or ipod? “—— I recommend, for everyone, opting for a low EMF lifestyle because we already know sufficient about EMF exposures to know that they affect everyone….low EMF means no Bluetooth, especially in cars….so yes USBs and input jacks are less convenient BUT they are a lot healthier. Tip 2, don’t take calls while you are in your car/keep them to an absolute minimum. Once you have started to react to EMFs, until you start listening to your body (its not just about reducing EMFs) don’t be surprised if your condition gets worse before it gets better. My free report can help you get on the right track.

  • Dan said,

    Hi Lloyd; (this may not be that relevent to this article but it was the closest match; I’m not talking about inside a car but however the living room)

    I’d like to ask, do speakers give off a harmful magentic field when switched off? There is a portable stereo about 1 foot away from anyone sat on the sofa and its around head level.

    Much appreciated, from England

  • Lloyd Burrell said,

    Hi Dan
    Magnetic fields only exist where current flows…….your only exposure if the speakers are switched off but plugged in is to electric fields….to avoid this either unplug your speakers/sound system or move the sofa further away.

  • Alan said,

    Lloyd,
    Have you personally or do you know of anyone that has purchased the Giron or the Magnetic Sheilding Foil and had it installed in their cars. I called the companies selling these shields and they cannot give me any references from users of these shielding foils. This leads me to believe that they just don’t work. You say to install shielding in your blog, but you don’t mention anything about before or after experiences by your self or readers.

    Alan

  • Lloyd Burrell said,

    I bought a sheet of Giron when it first came on the market. I tested it in the foot-well of my car (by laying it over the carpet)…..it definitely reduces the magnetic field exposures. I didn’t install it permanently because the MF levels are already quite low….I’ve got it on stand-by for when I next change my vehicle.

  • Mark said,

    Hi Lloyd,
    Great website…very informative. I recently found your website and decided to be more informed of EMFs surrounding me so I purchased the Trifield 100X. Needless to say I have been measuring EMFs everywhere including my 1999 Pathfinder.

    I discovered a disturbing reading when I place the Trifield 100X meter, on the Magnetic setting, on the driver seat between my legs. I also did the same readings for the passenger seat and this is what I found:-

    Driver Seat Passenger Seat
    Ignition Off 0.6mG 0.6mG
    Ignition turned once – engine off 3mG 1mG
    Ignition on – with engine idling 25mG 2.5mG
    Ignition on – apply gas – in park >100mG 10mG
    Ignition on – beneath seats 1.5mG 1.5mG
    outside vehicle

    1. What if anything can I do to reduce the >100mG reading?

    2. I don’t have children yet and I don’t want to jeopardize that option in the future. Is there a reliable material I can place onto my driver seat that will block those EMFs?

    3. Both the seats have 2 operable seat adjusting levers and seat warmers but I don’t understand why the driver seat reading is 10 times higher. Any thoughts on this Llyod?

    Thanks for your time .

  • Lloyd Burrell said,

    The Trifield is an AC gaussmeter….cars have a DC electrical system…..so your readings are not accurate…you need a DC gaussmeter to obtain reliable readings….but they do give you an indication…..useful for comparing between different vehicles and for comparing ignition on and off as you’ve done here. You can shield the footwells using a material called Giron…as explained on this page http://www.electricsense.com/7191/reduce-emf-exposure-cars-vehicles/

  • Alan said,

    Lloyd,
    Do you have a way to find out who in this country has purchased Giron shielding and installed in in their car ? And if so, can we find out how they made out in reducing the mG readings to a safe level? I’ve isolated the high mG readings to the floor area of the drivers side. (plus/minus 40 mG when engine is running and .5 to 2 mG when shut off.

  • Lloyd Burrell said,

    Unfortunately I don’t have any records on who buys what….but I have bought Giron and have tested it by laying it over the carpet in the foot-well…its works well…its on my to-do list to make a video.

  • Jane said,

    Hi Llyod, interesting stuff. Iam trying to buy a new car down to two, audi A3 or VW tigan. Have a 11 year old vw passat with no problems. How ever test driving the tigan gives me tingling in my lower arms (two separate test drives). The audi A3 didn’t cause that problem when driving but when sitting in sodden her seat I got tingling in my lower legs. I don’t think I’m ES or at least I’m not sure…. But could this be because of emfs?
    And in a post above you mentioned needing a DC meter for measuring in a car… I hAve an iphone app Tesla Meter which apparently measures AC and DC magnetic fields.. Have you heard of this or tried it?
    Many thanks.

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