Study Finds 3 Times Higher EMF Levels Using Cell Phones Inside Vehicles 

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Over the past couple decades, as cell phone use in cars (even while driving) has become commonplace, the question of whether cell phone use hinders the safety of operating a vehicle has been asked with increasing frequency. First and foremost, there is the obvious consideration of a highly distracting element being added into the environment of the driver, creating the impulse or necessity of diverting their attention from watching the road and operating the vehicle. The common consensus is that this is unsafe, and has become a frequent cause of automobile accidents.

A more recent concern, with the rise of hands-free cell phone systems that enable you to keep your eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel, is the discovery of the way that interacting with the information stimulus from your phone affects your brain function. It occupies your awareness and prompts you to interact with this stimulus, which inherently decreases driving safety, stealing your focus away from driving your car and paying attention to your surroundings closely enough so that you can react instantly when there’s a danger or obstruction on the road.

These dangers have been established and widely agreed upon, and public information cautioning the use of cell phones while driving is now widespread. It is even against the law now in many places. 1.3 million people per year worldwide die in auto accidents, and between 20 and 50 million suffer non-fatal injuries. Avoiding cell phone use while driving is one of several common public guidelines for increasing safety on the roads, listed just after avoiding driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol and obeying speed limits.

A much more recent line of inquiry is if the health effects of the electromagnetic fields themselves, from cell phone use and other sources like radar sensors (and even the car motor itself), may be hindering the brain and nervous system function of drivers, affecting their ability to safely operate their vehicles. This is a very valid question, considering the established effects of EMFs on the brain and nervous system, and one that needs to be explored thoroughly to make sure our roadways are as safe as possible as EMF sources like 5G antennas and vehicle radar systems are increasing exponentially, increasing our radiation exposure while we drive our cars.

Polish study from 2013 finds 3x increase in RF radiation while driving

A study published in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health in 2013 sought to understand this issue in greater depth. Note that even 8 years ago when this study was published, cell phone use in cars was minimal compared to what it is today, with much less daily use per cell phone user, as well as slower speeds and less overall data transfer. When the study was actually done, in 2011, 4G was only just being announced and phones were still operating within the 3G standard, which only rarely included video streaming.

A working group of scientists in Poland saw a need for research to be done into the effects of radiofrequency radiation on humans operating motor vehicles. Past studies have demonstrated that EMFs may affect EEG recordings in subjects performing complex mental tasks, as well as modify human working memory and cognitive functions. This study hypothesizes that cell phone EMFs may adversely affect a driver’s response to road traffic situations.

Since there have been little to no prior studies in this area, it was first important to establish a driver’s EMF exposure levels while driving and using a cell phone, to act as a baseline for subsequent studies to measure effects of these EMFs at appropriate levels that simulate real life use.

They used motor vehicle simulators in a controlled environment, and the EMF exposure was facilitated using a commercial Nokia phone set to emit a UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) test signal. The study states, “The source used in our experiment enabled the generation of a signal identical to that occurring in real conditions, with full repeatability and stability ensured.”

The EMF readings were taken at the position of the driver’s head (to simulate the driver talking with the phone held to the ear), as well as at the position of the dashboard (for hands free cell phone setups). The tests were done with the phones at full power (to simulate use in rural areas with poor base station signal) as well as at 20% power (representing urban areas with good base station coverage). The readings were measured at 16 separate locations inside the vehicle, corresponding to parts of the body of a driver. Unsurprisingly, the highest readings were found near the head of the simulated driver using the cell phone against the ear.

Interestingly, they also compared measurements inside the vehicle simulator to measurements using the same cell phone outside the vehicle, and found 3 times greater EMF exposure levels inside the vehicle! The study commented about the threefold greater exposure within the vehicle simulator:

“Those values are elevated mainly due to the induction of EMF in the simulator’s metal parts and EMF rebounding from metal exterior planes. Our results correspond to those published by other authors, showing an increase of exposure inside a motor vehicle compared to the theoretically calculated free space conditions.”  

Cars are Faraday cages that concentrate EMFs

As the study results showed, and the researchers explained, the metal parts of the car’s frame and body panels act to block the dispersal of EMFs generated inside the vehicle. In free space, they would escape into the surrounding area, diluting their concentration. Inside a car, because the metal body will partially block external signals, it is more likely that your phone will have a harder time receiving a signal from a nearby cell tower, thereby ramping up the signal amplitude to a higher level to achieve a connection, increasing the EMF exposure of those inside the car by up to 400%.

Additionally, the signal the phone tries to send back to the tower may “bounce off” the metal walls inside the car several times before it finds its way out and back to the tower, exposing everyone in the car to higher levels of radiation. It makes complete sense that these study results showed increased EMF intensity inside the car.

Modern cars have additional problems. Most new cars come with radar sensor systems that are designed to alert the driver to other vehicles or obstructions around the car, for the purpose of deceasing collisions due to driver negligence. These radar systems operate in the millimeter wave range, usually between 24 GHz and 77 GHz. These are higher frequencies than most 5G antennas currently use! Although they are fairly low power (low amplitude) in their signal output, they are also much closer to our bodies than 5G antennas, and they are operating the entire time the vehicle is turned on, so our exposure is constant. Due to the Faraday cage-like structure of the car body, these millimeter wave radar signals will also concentrate inside the car. The study did not test this aspect of modern cars, as it was not widespread during the time of the study.

Also, the car’s motor itself, as well as its internal computers, are constantly emitting EMFs within extremely close range of the front seat driver and passenger. A motor emits electric and magnetic fields as part of its basic function, even if it’s an older car with very little computerized aspects.

The elaborate computer systems and large storage battery in electric cars, which many people now drive, take this to the next level! There were only about 17,000 electric cars on the road in 2010. By 2019, that number has reached 7.2 million!

All of the above considered, you can see that driving is very different now than it used to be. For the long-term health and critical short-term driving safety of you and your passengers, you will want to make sure you are adequately protected from EMFs anytime you are in your car.  

The Blushield Auto – Ideal EMF protection for frequent driving

Blushield has a selection of several stationary home units to provide EMF protection at home, as well as several portable models small enough to fit in your pocket. In most cases, carrying your handheld Portable with you when you’re out and about, including in your car, is perfectly adequate. If you have an electric car or a modern car equipped with radar sensors, or if you frequently travel through dense urban areas, it is best to use one of our stronger dual band portable devices.

One unique Blushield unit that fits a special niche is our Auto unit. This model plugs into the 12-volt cigarette lighter plug in your car, and runs off your car battery. Because it’s powered by your high capacity car battery, it is as strong in its protection as our base level home unit, the Plugin! You could see it as a “home unit in mobile form”, in a sense. The Auto unit is about 7 times stronger in base protection strength than our base portable device.

It stays plugged into your car at all times, eliminating the possibility of not being protected due to accidentally leaving your portable at home. It also does not need to be charged like the portable units do, and will run anytime your car is on (or anytime you can access the battery through a plug, which some plugs will do even when the car is off).

The Auto unit is great for anyone who drives frequently, or drives long distances. It is fantastic for road trips, commutes into urban areas, and especially for those who drive vehicles for a living. Truck drivers, delivery drivers and Lyft/Uber drivers are who this Blushield Auto model was made for!

If your work demands that you’re in your car for many hours straight every day, you are exposed to considerably higher EMF levels than most people. This is especially the case if your job requires that you use your cell phone in your car to stay connected with your employer or customers. Larger vehicles like delivery trucks and 18-wheelers have larger motors, which emit higher levels of EMFs. The vehicle’s metal cage concentrates these EMFs inside, affecting driver and passengers more profoundly.

If you find that driving leaves you fatigued and unfocused, and with other EMF related symptoms, the Auto unit could give you some welcome relief! It brings the biologically coherent, nature-based frequency patterns of Blushield into the previously chaotic, incoherent space of your car, and help make your driving experience healthier, safer and more comfortable.  


Original paper: “The pattern of the electromagnetic field emitted by mobile phones in motor vehicle driving simulators” –,2192,0,2.html

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