There is no longer a doubt that the footprint of humanity is starting to take its toll on our global environment and ecosystems. This realization has ignited a much-needed shift towards finding environmentally friendly options in all areas of our lives. This emphasis on “green” options has started to shift our awareness to making our homes more energy efficient, increase our recycling and purchasing environmental friendly options. There is a tremendous opportunity for each person and household to play their part to reduce our waste and conserve energy. Despite the overwhelming benefits to making more environmentally choices for our homes there is still a need to assess if these changes have a beneficial impact on our health. Since the vast majority of the “green” options we have available to us have a positive impact on our health we tend to assume the same of all “green” options. This article highlights a few potential areas where “going green” is not necessarily the healthiest option. It is up to you to decide if the potential health risk is worth the “green” trade off.
Recently, I went to test drive a number of new cars. Now more than ever, there are super fuel-efficient vehicle options available to consumers. Almost everyone is aware that hybrids and electric cars are leading the field in lowest emissions and gasoline consumption. It was actually surprising to discover that a 2004 report by the Connecticut General Assembly, stated that when comparing a traditional compact car to its hybrid counterpart, you can expect emissions to be reduced by only approximately 10-15 percent. While this is an improvement over gasoline engines its not as high as we may think. The key factor that makes a hybrid more fuel-efficient is the use of electric power at lower speeds. This requires a much more powerful battery and wiring. This results in higher electromagnetic radiation (EMR) production. Most people don’t realize that a hybrid vehicle is really one large sophisticated battery and generator, which the passengers are sitting directly above. The effect of EMR produced in hybrid vehicles on the human health has not been well studied but recently a large-scale research trial in Europe has linked EMR from cellphones to a higher incidence of brain tumours. Another very recent study showed that sperm quality was decreased when exposed to Wi Fi (a source of EMR) from laptop computers in close proximity. It’s still to early to definitively determine if there is a negative impact from the EMR given off from hybrid vehicles but my guess is that it does have a negative impact.
Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR)
Every electric device (toaster, heat blanket, cell phone, light etc.) gives off EMR. Certain types and wavelengths are potentially more damaging to human tissue than others. Typically, higher frequencies have more potentially dangerous effects to health. Cellphones are particularly worrisome because high power frequencies are transmitted for extended periods of time very close to sensitive brain tissue. Experts are warning of the possible dangers of chronic exposure especially in children. Research studies are now showing that EMR is linked to cancer, sleep dysfunction, migraines, hormonal disruption, infertility, vertigo and attention difficulties. We are surrounded by radio waves every day but exposure to high intensity frequencies definitely has a negative impact on your health. There have been many recorded cases of people living near cellphone towers or hydro-lines and develop debilitating symptoms because of the exposure. You should reduce your exposure as much as possible especially to high-power electrical lines, cellphone towers and long-term cellphone use. For more information about your cell phone, look at my cell phone hygiene info sheet in the downloads section on my website (www.paulhrkalnd.ca) or visit www.ewg.org. For more excellent information and research on the dangers of EMRs visit www.magdahavas.com.
Back To Hybrid Vehicles
Another issue with hybrid vehicles is the need for a large amount of rare metals in the construction of the high voltage battery and wiring. Old car batteries are made of lead (a metal with toxic effects on nerves) but hybrid batteries require large amounts of nickel and lithium, which can be potentially toxic. Experts have classified Nickel as a potential cancer causing substance. Exposure to our environment may occur has more hybrid batteries are being made and used. The vast majority of these rare metals are mined in China where the environmentally devastating technique of strip mining is used to extract the metals for the earth. After considering the above points, the overall effect of hybrid technology may not be as environmentally friendly or healthy as we may believe despite the improved fuel economy and marginally lower emissions. Until more research is done to test the long-term sustainability of hybrid technology and exposure to higher EMR I remain sceptical about the health impact of this “eco-friendly” option.
Upcoming: Part 2 – New Energy Efficient Fluorescent Light Blubs and Recycled Plastics