There is a legitimate scientific reason for asking whether hybrid vehicles are healthy for drivers, writes Jim Motavalli, in the New York Times.
Motavalli, editor of E: The Environmental Magazine, and author of several books, notes that the battery-supplied electrical current that moves a hybrid vehicle at low speeds (and assists the gasoline engine on the highway) produces magnetic fields that some studies have associated with serious health matters, including a possible risk of leukemia among children.
Also, he writes, the batteries and power cables in hybrid vehicles are often placed close to the driver and passengers.
In a statement, Toyota said: “The measured electromagnetic fields inside and outside of Toyota hybrid vehicles in the 50 to 60 hertz range are at the same low levels as conventional gasoline vehicles. Therefore there are no additional health risks to drivers, passengers or bystanders.” The statement also said the measured electromagnetic field in a Prius is 1/300th of the European guideline.
Earlier this year Toyota was considered one of the top four brands seen as truly green, according to the 2008 Brandjunkie survey.