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Radiation from Battery/Electric Motor

Was thinking about whether there is ELF or ionizing radiation emitted from the huge battery pack and electric motor underneath the vehicle. Obviously ionizing radiation would be a major concern if that was the case, but even ELF radiation over long periods could be of concern.

If radiation is emitted, does the 85kwh emit more than a 60 let's say. Better yet, does an ICE vehicle produce less than an EV given the lack of battery?

Wondering if anybody has looked at what of anything the MS emits in terms of radiation and potential effects on long term health?

And the reason people get flack about bring this stuff up is because when they don't know anything about it and they are informed they never want to believe.

Well actually nobody has presented any scientific measurements, studies or quantitative comparisons for the EMF fields in the interior of the Model S. That's useful information. Generic statements about the "ignorance" of the poster are not.

I'm just weary of the same people claiming to be "experts" on everything from climate change, international trade/economics, electromechanical engineering, biological sciences, etc. When knowledgeable people chime in with useful information, it's easy to spot them as real experts in that field. When people pose as experts on a broad range of subjects, it's easy to see them as Not So Much.

Ah I see.. then you went back and read the three links I provided where this was discussed extensively.

Secondly. Don't come to a forum of the average Joe and ask for expert opinions! LOL... really! If that is the case don't even post the question.

I'll post a link again. You can start there. People aren't going to have time to retype responses every other day as a new person comes along and asks the same question again. I know a search feature in this forum would help but people typically find and post the links about previous discussions like I did several posts back. Obviously you don't go back and read them.

Search under EMF and read the bazillions of previous posts on this topic.


I think it might actually make the Model S look even cooler if it had a radiation sign on it.

Sudre read your links and I see 2 points of view from what you provided.

1. We are bombarded with EMF on a daily basis (Bluetooth, etc) so one more small source is not an issue
2. Just because we are exposed to EMF on a daily basis does not mean that more exposure is not harmful

I would think that most people would agree that if given a choice to be exposed to more EMF or less most people would choose less. If that is the case, then understanding what one is exposed to in any vehicle, including the MS, and what measures the manufacturer is taking to limit exposure is useful knowledge.

I posted here to see if anybody had information on the subject, not to be ridiculed for asking a question many people may have.

"Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers. It may not be difficult to store up in the mind a vast quantity of face within a comparatively short time, but the ability to form judgments requires the severe discipline of hard work and the tempering heat of experience and maturity." Calvin Coolidge

It's not a 'tin foil hat' it's clearly a 'helmet'... I'm insulted!
(ha, ha)

In all seriousness, I am a scientist, (Ph.D. and all that) who spent 40 years in the field or NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). As NMR spectrometers and MR Imagers involve very strong magnetic and electromagnetic fields I have over the years read a few papers on the dangers of all of the above.

First, one cannot generalize about electromagnetic radiation. The spectrum of electromagnetic radiation covers a large number of things we are familiar with, including visible light. The effects of a given electromagnetic field or radiation on us, or matter in general, depends on the wavelength (frequency) or energy of that radiation as well as the voltage or intensity. At the lower frequency/energy range of things we have radio waves and microwaves followed by Infrared. If infrared and microwaves radiation have a strong enough intensity, they can excite molecular vibrations that we feel as heat or use to heat our food, but such radiation is not “ionizing”. Continuing on to even higher energy we have the visible light that allows us to see. Not much to fear with visible light even though it is higher energy than microwaves! At slightly higher energy however is ultraviolet light or UV that can not only cause sunburns, but at the higher energy range of UV can be ionizing and cause damage to DNA, etc. At the highest energy end of the spectrum we have X-rays and gamma rays. Probably everyone is aware that too many X-rays can be dangerous. All of the above is electromagnetic radiation. The difference is the wavelength.

In my life I am not worried about damage from low frequency sources such as radio waves from WiFi, smart meters, TV and radio transmission, etc. (I don’t wear a tin foil hat.) While I have read that from both a proximity and exposure time basis, if one is worried about low frequency EMF, one should avoid electric blankets and clock radios near the bed, but I enjoy at least preheating the bed with my electric blankie. I probably would not choose to live under a 110 thousand volt power transmission line but don’t think that there is any proof that it is a problem (Wouldn't like the buzzing though). We don’t stick any living things in our microwave. I do wear sunscreen and sunglasses when outdoors. I would much rather have an MRI than an X-ray based CT scan. X rays do cause damage. I would probably rather not fly in a thunderstorm, but often have.

I am really not at all worried about the relatively low frequencies and voltages involved in the Tesla. While it seems like the Model S has a powerful battery, that energy is stored chemically, not as a voltage as would be the case with a capacitor. +1 Agree with you completely. Thanks!

And note that the body makes use of, and needs, a certain amount of ionizing UV to generate vitamin D, up to 40,000 units in an hour or less (after which it dumps the excess).

We didn't evolve in a bubble, and can easily overdo "protection" from the environment.

And I should have added the need for electromagnetic radiation for plants to achieve photosynthesis, etc. One could say that life on earth depends on it!

+1 shs
the thing about posting in such a forum is you never know what kind of experts you might run into. - thank you! You are obviously an expert and that's very useful information.

I heard once that pregnant women shouldn't use electric blankets. Is that a folk tale or are there real concerns? What about a very young baby in the back seat of the Model S near the motor - not to worry?

Thanks again for your very informational post.

I would not claim to be an “expert” on damage from EMF exposure, but as I suggested, I dealt for many years with instrumentation that involved very strong magnetic and electromagnetic fields and have read various scientific papers over the years. And especially with MRI, people are actually exposed to those fields, and yet, MRI is considered much safer than X-ray (CT) scans and that is because of the wavelength or energy associated with the various EMFs. X-rays have the energy necessary to break chemical bonds and cause damage while radio frequency fields used for MRI do not have that energy. Given the much lower frequencies (longer wavelengths) and therefore lower energy EMFs associate the Tesla Model S (and/or with electric blankets) I really don’t think they would cause damage given what I suspect would be the EMF levels in the passenger compartment. Perhaps the strongest thing I could mention is that it is my understanding the the 3rd row seating exists perhaps largely because Elon Musk has 5 children and will seat two of them in the back of his personal car. Elon is a pretty smart guy. I am sure he loves his children. - Thank you, I think you've alleviated a lot of concerns and collectively we appreciate your factual posts.

I don't disagree with the above, and clearly stated that I don't have any present health concerns about MS and occupant EMF exposure. I think it's important to recognize, however, that there is no "safe" level of exposure to radon gas as was alluded to earlier, and certainly no protective effect of exposure. There is no dose of ionizing radiation so low that the risk of malignancy is zero. To state otherwise is irresponsible and factually incorrect. Can we remove all EMF exposure from our lives? Definitely not. But it's not an area that should be ignored either. Hopefully, most intelligent folk will wait for the data before professing their ignorance. If credentials are relevant, I'm a double boarded physician scientist with 15 years experience in clinical and research medicine subspecializing in the microscopic anatomy and molecular pathology of breast and head and neck cancer. I received my training at a major Harvard teaching hospital. I'm currently a medical director at a tertiary care hospital in Boston where I hold an academic appointment and teach at the medical school.

As I stated in an earlier blog, the EMF comes from the electric motor, not the battery pack. The electric motor, for it to work efficiently, must contain the magnetic field inside the motor to provide the torque to turn the rotor. Also, the EMF generated follows the inverse square rule, so an inch or two outside the casing the EMF falls off to nothing.

So there is nothing to fear from the electronics in these vehicles.


I do think that it is unfortunate that the term “radiation” is used to describe both high-speed subatomic particles whizzing about and electromagnetic fields. They are very different. High-speed subatomic particles result from nuclear fission, e.g. radon gas, a nuclear bomb, a nuclear power plant, or cosmic rays. and are indeed dangerous. Think tiny high-speed bullets that cause damage when they strike a person. On the other hand, most of the electromagnetic fields we experience, e.g. visible light, are quite harmless in normal doses and essential to life as we know it (but do wear a broad spectrum sun screen when outdoors and minimize X-Rays).

Shielding low frequency EMFs is also quite easy and I would think that most all of the EMFs associated with the motor are well contained within the outer casing.

While I don’t think that this thread has involved any fear mongering, but rather legitimate questions from people who care about possibly putting children in harms way, it reminded me of the battle of the currents that went on in the early days of electricity. Quite a few years ago, I was at a scientific conference in Banff Canada, and the after dinner speaker, a government minister, gave a two and a half hour talk about the life and works of Nikola Tesla. It was a fascinating talk and I have been interested in Tesla ever since, just much too long for the occasion. One of the main parts of the talk had to do with all the fear mongering the DC people (Edison) used to try and discredit Tesla and Westinghouse who were advocating AC. The DC folks had a touring road show that illustrated the dangers of AC by electrocuting stray dogs and cats and even a few elephants (horrors!) and Edison’s “invented” the electric chair that, of course, he made sure was AC. The AC vs DC battle was a big deal and the proponents spent big bucks lobbying various governments and on PR.

So imagine my surprise a few nights ago when Netflix recommended I watch “Murdock Murders”. I looked at info on the first show of the series and it mentioned a murder mystery involving Nikola Tesla. We had to watch given my current obsession with all things Tesla (no grin for me yet). The program started with a “Dangers of AC” road show in Toronto that was about to electrocute a very cute stray dog. The animal rights people were there; Tesla was there, etc. as they were about to throw the switch. My wife wasn’t sure she wanted to watch, but I was pretty sure the dog would make it. (Spoiler alert – the dog makes it and Tesla was not the murderer.) Anyway it was a fun show to watch as it also went into some other aspects of Tesla’s work. BTW, one of the things holding back the adoption of AC was that at the time, all motors were DC. Tesla invented the AC induction motor, which brings us right back to discussing the Model S.

Happens the nursing study was set up as a gold standard in advance, and followed through. Double-blinded, meticulously tracked, etc. There was no suggestion that it was "flawed". Just heterodox. "No safe level" is an assumption, which is proving false again and again. Some are so certain that they won't even look at the evidence, of course.

There was a nursing study where subjects were randomized to receive ionizing radiation. Who was that IRB?

I mean healthy subjects (hope that was obvious).

Can we please stop having a thread like this every other month?

Either you can choose to believe this, or not:


The recurrent discussion is likely due to persistent interest. Please ignore the thread if it distresses you. I for one always learn something. There is also the possibility that wikipedia may not be the final authority on this issue.


I would very much like to view the evidence. Please provide a citation for the nursing study. You seem to have quite a few study details for a "buried" manuscript. Well-designed studies usually find a home in a reputable peer-reviewed scientific journal. "No safe level" is supported by a preponderance of the peer-reviewed literature.

"No safe level [for ionizing radiation] proving false again and again"- Could you please cite specific peer-reviewed references for this? Please disregard the botanical literature.


Tesla was indeed fascinating and is well-deserving of his new museum. Thanks for sharing the interesting anecdote.

"No safe level [for ionizing radiation] proving false again and again"-Brian

I think Brian is saying this because we require ionizing radiation for our bodies to make vitamin D. Vitamin D is proving to be a very important vitamin to have. That means there must be a safe level. The level at witch we get the needed amount of vitamin D.

Actually, most physicians do not encourage obtaining one's daily requirement for vitamin D from sunlight. It's too unreliable for a variety of reasons relating to individual factors (age, skin color, etc.) and meteorology. The recommendation now is to obtain most vitamin D through dietary means and supplements. If you want to see the vein bulge in a dermatologist's neck, tell them you plan to get your daily dose of D through sunlight.

The LNT assumption of an ideal "bubble boy" existence is simply contrary to experience and fact, and research. The immune system and DNA repair mechanisms have an optimum "challenge" level, or they are "dialed down" to dangerously low levels (for when a challenge does occur, as is almost inevitable). There is no research support for the LNT assumptions. They're just convenient. It's easier to kill a few rats with megadoses and divide the mortality by 1,000,000 than to unravel the actual biological responses, and what dosage it takes to overwhelm them.

One test was Bernard Cohen's study in the 1990s. As a physicist, he was sure he would find a strong radon-cancer correlation. He did, but it was negative (covered about 90% of the counties in the country).

Don't have personal access to journal indices, and don't have previous links to hand. Will post them if I come across them again.

To summarize, in Jan 2013:

Radon gas: Avoid where possible at any level to reduce your risk of lung cancer.
Ionizing radiation: Avoid where possible at any level to reduce your risk of malignancy.
Non-ionizing EMF: Jury still out on potential health effects

Whether up-regulation of DNA repair enzyme activity occurs at extremely low exposure levels and is sufficient to confer cellular protection has yet to be confirmed in multiple independent peer-reviewed studies.

My wife is a Ph.D epidemiologist who did research on the effects of EMF in the 1980s. I asked for her take on this. She told me that EMF emissions from DC sources are not a risk. We’re exposed to them every day from nature and they have no biological effect on the body. So the big DC battery pack is not a concern. But, EMF emissions from AC sources could be a concern. That means the question is how much AC EMF comes from the motor.

I remember when she had some cool meters to measure EMF, but they are long gone.

As has been stated here, distance from the field is important as the energy dissipates very quickly. Personally, we’re not getting the jump seats and don’t expect the back seat to be used very often, so we’re not concerned about exposure to ourselves or to passengers in the car.

We’re looking forward to getting our car next week. My wife’s in a school of public health and we’ll see if any of her colleagues have access to a meter to do some real measurements. No guarantee there. But if we’re lucky, we’ll get back with details.

On a side note – this reminds me of purchasing granite for our kitchen a few years ago. We took a Geiger counter to the warehouse that had lots of granite slabs. Yes, several of them got the Geiger counter very excited (mostly dark reds). Not a good idea to have a radioactive kitchen if you can avoid it.

@RobS - Would love to see what the meters say when you get your Model S.

It's the "extremely low only" which research is now disputing. Radon etc. does cause damage. What it doesn't cause is linear mortality; in fact the reverse at low to average exposure. You seem to be committed to the LNT assumption. Why?

You just said it yourself Robert22, "Non-ionizing EMF: Jury still out on potential health effects".

That's a polite way of saying there's no evidence it does anything, and it's only been studied because people were concerned about it, though the concerns were not based on scientific evidence.

By dragging the topic up over and over again, it makes some people believe that there actually is something to be concerned about or that there's even some sort of conspiracy to hide concerns, regardless of evidence.

Also, am I wrong about the following?
Electromagnetic radiation =/= EMF

...though they are related.

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