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Your new car may be environmentally friendly, but is it people friendly? 

Our desire to help slow climate change, by driving fuel-efficient, non-polluting vehicles, is commendable. However, the increased use of high technology in all vehicles, including new cars, is resulting in more sources of electromagnetic radiation (EMR).

For the past 35 years, automotive designers have been cramming all sorts of technical goodies into automobiles. Compared to the cars of the early 1970s, today's cars run more efficiently, handle much better and are, therefore, more enjoyable to drive. However, all of this really neat technology comes with really significant sources of electromagnetic radiation, such as computers, electric cables and the little parts and pieces hidden under the plastic panels that whiz and whir. 

New propulsion technologies such as fuel cells, electric drive, compressed natural gas (CNG), hydrogen fuels and gasoline and diesel hybrids, along with their computers, controllers, inverters and wires, add another layer of high tech EMR to the mix.

The new kid on the block, the gasoline engine hybrid vehicle, uses fuel efficient gasoline engine technology, a large electric motor and a collection of batteries to achieve a combination of acceptable performance and good fuel economy.

There is concern about the increased amount of electrical apparatus, which requires large amounts of electric current at high voltage-all packaged within the confines of a car. Given this amount of EMR in a close, personal environment, its little wonder that there have been reported cases of people who are uncomfortable in some hybrid models.

To ensure that your next set of wheels is safe, perform a pre-purchase evaluation for EMR emissions. Using a meter that measures magnetic fields, take readings on the dash; the entire floor including both sides of the vehicle front, rear and down the centre; all of the seat cushions; front and rear door sills; and the trunk. Take the readings while the vehicle is stationary, with the engine idling, and then at as many locations as possible while the vehicle is in motion.

Record your findings and compare them to the safe limits for magnetic fields for long durations, which are 1 to 2 milligauss (mG). You will find each vehicle you evaluate will have different magnetic field characteristics. Such differences will influence how you feel in the car when driving or being driven. Be sure to road test the vehicle for 30 to 60 minutes so that you and your passengers can evaluate it thoroughly, as well as pay attention to yourselves for EMR exposure symptoms.

Recently, two clients of mine who had never experienced electromagnetic symptoms did not notice or recognize the sensations they felt during a test drive of the car itself. After they purchased the vehicle, both began to experience prickly face sensations, itchy skin and, on one occasion, a leg tremor while driving for more that 30 minutes. A magnetic field inspection revealed a number of readings that concerned them. Although they liked the car, the couple was forced to trade it at a financial loss for another model (the manufacturer refused to acknowledge that the EMR from the car was causing their severe physical reactions).

Be sure to do your homework before purchasing a new vehicle. Learning about its EMR levels and how they affect you after the fact is much more difficult to remedy.
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