Radiation from Battery/Electric Motor

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?

Electron | 29 December, 2012

No study anywhere at any time has shown a link between ELF or non-ionizing radiationmof the type produced by electrical systems and netive health effects. Furthermore, electrical systems such as batteries, motors, and charging systems do not produce ionizing radiation. Worry more about the sun and the things you put in your body.

Electron | 29 December, 2012

Wow typos, sorry.

Ohms.Law | 29 December, 2012

Right on Chris@logic. Ionizing radiation is the result of decay chain daughter products coming from radioactive material. The battery pack is no more radioactive than a loaf of bread. Okay maybe 10 loaves of bread.

DTsea | 29 December, 2012

Your house has electricity right? Same 'radiation.' Ie, electric fields. Don't give it another thought.

Sudre_ | 29 December, 2012

"ELF radio waves are generated by lightning and natural disturbances in Earth's magnetic field,....."

"Because of the difficulty of building transmitters that can generate such long waves...", and these freaks think the Tesla puts out so much it's harmful to humans.

..."US and Russian military have used ELF transmission facilities to communicate with their submerged submarines....", I hope the military buys the Tesla ELF generator. That will really make the stock go up.

What a DC battery has to do with it I have no idea... maybe just that it can be used to run equipment that generates an ELF.

TeslaModelSOwner | 29 December, 2012

Question is, does a tesla produce greater ELF than an ICE?

Electron | 29 December, 2012

Neither produces any appreciable ELF. ELF radiation has huge wavelengths and requires
antennae on the order of miles long to produce. Last time I checked, no normal car dimension
or part exceeds a few meters in length.

WolfenHawke | 29 December, 2012

You gotta be kidding with this post.

Stark | 30 December, 2012

Let's not get too angry over this post, it is a ligitimate concern. We should be educating people so they understand. The short answere is the risk is low if not zero. My dad worked customer service for the local power company for 35 years and had to address these types of questions all the time. In fact, I have high tension power lines behind my house and had to convince my wife there was no danger when we moved in. (I think it is a great feature as I have a huge green space and my closest neighbor is about 200 meters away). Anyway, the truth of the matter is we are constantly surrounded by electromagnetic fields. Any electicity moving through a conductor created them. However, the strength of these fields is quite low. Also, as you move away from the source, the strength of the field decreases following the inverse square law. And as posted above, there is no ionizing radiation associated with electromagnetic fields.

drp | 30 December, 2012

Yes, I agree. It's a very reasonable question. Not too long ago people had tremendous concerns about putting a laptop on your lap and it's link to sterility particular in males. Not an unreasonable question at all consider sitting on top of over 7000 batteries!

Sudre_ | 30 December, 2012

You two do realize ELF is Extremely Low Frequency waves and has nothing to do with electro-anything except humans use electricity is used to make them.

Ionizing radiation is from decaying isotopes which don't come from lithium batteries. People need to stop and just do a simple Google search on this stuff before they freak out over it. On the bright side the government would require the car to have a radiation symbol on it if it was radioactive.

I think everyone here is mistaking ELF for EMF, ElectroMagnetic Field. There are already several topics on EMF.

jjaeger | 30 December, 2012

I watched ELF over the holiday - one of the best Xmas movies ever if you ask me. Will Ferrell plays it just right...

Electron | 30 December, 2012

The laptop thingnwas due to heat, not EM radiation. This thread is silly. You should all be more worried about driving 5000 pounds of metal around at high speed. Pay attention to real threats.

Robert22 | 30 December, 2012

Yes, I started one of those threads several months ago to discuss the potential health effects of being in close proximity to an EMF source, and was deemed a wingnut (I'm not). I discussed EMF exposure levels with a Tesla engineer several years ago when they brought the car to Boston. They recognized the potential for public concern at that time and I was told it was being addressed. No details were given and no I didn't feel like I was being patronized since distance from source and shielding was discussed. As I mentioned in prior posts, there is no scientific debate. EMF can and does perturb the cellular microenvironment, at the very least displacing proteins within cells and causing ion channel disruption. The question is not whether EMF can alter cellular function, it absolutely can, but whether proximity to EMF of sufficient strength leads to a pathologic series of events within the cell. This issue remains unresolved but a number of intriguing peer-reviewed studies are in process. It is true that EMF is ubiquitous but exposures vary tremendously. I own and drive a MS and have no reason to suspect that my health is in any kind of jeopardy, nor do I worry about it. It is premature however to label those who are curious about the relationship of EMF to health as crackpots. Keep an open mind, I strongly suspect you'll be hearing more about this topic in the future.

TeslaModelSOwner | 30 December, 2012

Thanks Robert and others for taking this post seriously and providing your views as opposed to others who simply like to be dismissive and take away from the conversation.

I am a reservation holder and very eager to receive my car, my wife and brother asked me this question and I did not have an answer. I thought it was an interesting one so posted it to the forum.

What I do gather is that EMF is in play, however, long term impacts are under review and nothing is definitive at this point. While I understand that EMF is all around us everyday, it strikes me that anything one can do to limit exposure is not a bad thing, hence the question as to how much incremental the MS puts out.

Thanks folks

Pungoteague_Dave | 30 December, 2012

Just saying you aren't a wingnut doesn't make it so. 99% of certifiable wingnuts think they are perfectly normal. If you are truly worried about EMF or other forms of electrical emissions, perhaps life on a small island would suit better. Just stay out of the sun and don't eat the tuna. None of us will be on earth longer than a blink of an eye, so all this navel gazing concern is a waste of valuable time.

TikiMan | 30 December, 2012

Our local utility recently put in 'smart-meters', which from what I am told send out a wireless EMF signal. There has been a HUGE amout of fear with regard to both this, and cell-towers, so much infact, I understand there are many investigations and pending lawsuits in progress realted to EMF's. I also know that many highly funded research has been done in Europe with regard to the effects cell phone radiation has on our bodies, and it appears the jury is still out on that one as well. Either way, I can't say I know enough about the science of it, to make any openon on the matter.

On the flip side, I have done a bit of research into the so-call 'chemtrails', and have found just as much extreme controversy on the subject. So far I have come to the conclusion that other than what crop-dusters do over farm fields, there is no such thing as''chemtrails', and if these jet-engine vapor-trails (aka contrails) are actually some nefarious government coverup, it's been happening since the early 1900's.

Either way, I'll take my chances with my Tesla's EMF's, over the far more dangerous carbon-monoxide emissions, which have been clinically proven to cause cancer, and respiratory diseases.

djp | 30 December, 2012

Would after market lead seat covers help?

Electron | 30 December, 2012


Chemtrails? I'm out. Leaving this one to the Art Bell types.

Brian H | 30 December, 2012

Not only is EMF harmless, so is most ionizing radiation. Keeps the repair system ticking over and healthy. A NJ study of nurses exposed to radon had to be buried, because it turned out that the more exposure they got, the lower their cancer rates were. Not at all the desired conclusion!

lph | 30 December, 2012

It does appear to me that the more dangerous view is from those that think there are major health problems from EMF from an EV such as the Tesla.
It does not seem plausible to me that significant ELF can be generated by the Tesla. See other postings in this thread for explanation.
Please refer to To my mind this is a rational look at the effects of EMF on the human body. The detrimental effects of EMF according to them are minimal at worst to non existent at best.
EMF is related to voltage. Higher the voltage the higher the EMF.
A ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) uses spark plugs which operate at 12,000 to 60,000 volts. I believe that most cars operate nearer the upper end of this range.
Tesla operates on about 400 volts. However, the individual batteries are only 3.1 volts! I believe that the full 400 volts is not realized until near the output point of the battery?
Both are close to the passenger. Tesla is under the floor somewhere, and the ICE by your feet in the foot well.
If I thought EMF were a problem, I would stay away from the ICE car and go to the Tesla because of what seems to me to be LOWER EMF's from the Tesla.
There are much more deadly chemical things to worry about when you drive a ICE vehicle. Has everyone forgotten the bad stuff that comes out of the exhaust pipe?

Sudre_ | 30 December, 2012

E60 M5 Owner when you started this topic it was about ELF and ionizing radiation not EMF. I guess you have no argument there so it's time to switch to EMF.

Go back and read these posts. There are many more on the subject in this forum.

Considering that the electricians of the world have all been working around the stuff a lot more than just people living around it and NONE of them have won a workers comp lawsuit I think the jury is in on the subject.

I believe one of those past topics also discussed EMF concerned people not living on Earth because it has it's own EMF all the time. It pretty much puts to shame most of what humans create considering it reaches into space.

Alan S | 30 December, 2012

+1 lph, the EMF from any ICE is far higher then anything that the Model S is capable of producing. ELF and ionizing radiation are not even something to be concerned with in a vehicle unless we were using Thorium or Uranium instead of batteries.

Robert22 | 30 December, 2012


Carbon monoxide has not been clinically proven to cause cancer, or for matter, been shown to promote cancer in any peer-reviewed paper I'm aware of. Carbon monoxide has actually been used as a therapeutic to reduce the damage of acute lung injury and exerts a protective effect on the alveolus. We may all be treating ourselves with limited doses of carbon monoxide one day if the pulmonary protective effects are confirmed.

@Brian H-

Smoking was considered harmless too. Wait for the data.

Additional studies this year have confirmed original findings that ionizing radiation from the increased use of CT scans and mammography results in higher rates of secondary malignancies. Exposure to most ionizing radiation is most definitely not harmless. Are you sure the study you cite wasn't buried because of its flawed design? An overwhelming and growing body of literature refutes your contention.

Robert22 | 30 December, 2012

Correction: "Exposure to most ionizing radiation above background..."

Brian H | 31 December, 2012

The LND assumption (Linear Nontoxic Dose) and "standard" uses high dose responses and linear extrapolation to low doses. Invalid. The dose determines the response non-linearly. That is, there is a U-shaped function. Beneficial to a an optimum point, over which it starts to be less so, then becomes harmful. Lots of chemicals also show this pattern.

Getting Amped Again | 31 December, 2012

This is a legitimate concern from someone looking for actual data and information, not snarky replies from Armchair Quarterbacks armed with an internet connection and a search engine. Babies and young children are going to sit less than a foot away from a powerful electric motor for hours a day. That's not something that happens on a mass scale now, and it's fair for anyone to be be concerned about the possible long-term effects.

E60 M5 Owner didn't claim to be an expert, and may have used the wrong terminology or whatever, but these forums are about disseminating useful information. Useful information is quantitative data with comparisons to other household devices such at televisions, etc., not remarks like "Go live on a small island."

TeslaModelSOwner | 31 December, 2012

Thanks Getting Amped

dstiavnicky | 31 December, 2012

For anyone worried about this I suggest wearing a tin foil helmet 24/7... not only will you be protected from the radiation but other benefits include:

- strangers will likely not ask you about your new Tesla
- you will look very futuristic and therefore aliens will know that you are 'the man in charge'

... sorry couldn't write anymore, laughing too hard...

shs | 31 December, 2012

Funny, I was going to ask about headroom in a Model S when wearing a tinfoil hat in the thread debating climate change, but though it might not be productive.

Sudre_ | 31 December, 2012

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.

Getting Amped Again | 31 December, 2012

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.

Sudre_ | 31 December, 2012

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.

mrspaghetti | 31 December, 2012

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.

TeslaModelSOwner | 31 December, 2012

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

dstiavnicky | 31 December, 2012

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

shs | 31 December, 2012

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.

lph | 31 December, 2012 +1 Agree with you completely. Thanks!

Brian H | 1 January, 2013

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.

shs | 1 January, 2013

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!

portia | 1 January, 2013

+1 shs
the thing about posting in such a forum is you never know what kind of experts you might run into.

Getting Amped Again | 1 January, 2013 - 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.

shs | 1 January, 2013

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.

Getting Amped Again | 1 January, 2013 - Thank you, I think you've alleviated a lot of concerns and collectively we appreciate your factual posts.

Robert22 | 2 January, 2013

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.

Nexxus | 2 January, 2013

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.


shs | 2 January, 2013

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.

Brian H | 2 January, 2013

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.

MB3 | 2 January, 2013

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

MB3 | 2 January, 2013

I mean healthy subjects (hope that was obvious).