We all see them, traveling around small towns and the cities alike: hybrid vehicles with their eco-minded captains at the helm. Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet are starting to pump these little gas-sippers out for the masses now focusing on miles-per-gallon instead of power. However, have you ever really questioned if they were actually green, or at the very least, healthy for the consumer?
When the first hybrid vehicles started rolling across small town roads and large city streets, they were met with praise for their fuel conservancy. However, as time wore on, more and more people started to worry about the electromagnetic frequencies emitted by the batteries.
According to an article published by the New York Times titled “Fear, but Few Facts, on Hybrid Risk,” several consumers tested their newly bought vehicles for electromagnetic radiation. These consumers found some alarming results. The electric flow of the hybrid’s batteries create electromagnetic fields, and these fields have been shown to increase the risk of leukemia in children.
You may be asking, “How is this possible?”
While everyone is constantly bombarded by E.M.F. from living too close to utility lines or talking too long on your cellphone, there are federal standards governing these emissions. There are no federal standards for hybrid vehicle emissions. However, several studies from independent agencies and Toyota have shown there are not inherent risks of driving hybrid vehicles.
Another danger has crept into the picture for these cars: their quietness. Hybrids use both a gasoline engine and battery driven motors, but when they are traveling in electric only mode there is almost no noise, which causes pedestrians to not be aware of them, and often step out of the vehicles. Car manufacturers like Ford and Toyota are working on emitting sounds as objects approach the car closer and closer.
Now let us consider the environment.
Hybrids with all their tax credits and eco-friendly consumers, can do more damage to mother nature than gasoline-only powered cars.
Prius is a good example of negatives outweighing positives. While Toyota manufactures the Camry hybrid in its Georgetown, Ky., plant, all parts are imported from Japan. The Prius is built in Japan only. Cars are large, and it takes even larger freight liners to transport them over oceans. These massive vessels use fuel.
The batteries for hybrids destroy the environment. They use many metals found in areas all over the world from Canada, China and South America. Nickel, found in the Prius battery, is mined in Sudbury, Ontario and has destroyed the once green, lush landscape around the mining plant due to sulfur dioxide exposure and massive soil erosion.
It does not end there. After destroying the Ontario plants surroundings, the nickel is then shipped to Europe to be refined. Then it is sent to China where the refined nickel is turned into a foam like material. After China’s treatment, it is sent to Japan where the car is built in a factory which uses 50 percent more energy and releases more CO2 emissions for the Prius than in building normal cars.
Japan is not its last stop.
These vehicles are sent to the United States on massive vessels for the general consumer to purchase.
The general consumer may not realize 45 percent of electric energy used to charge plug-in hybrids actually comes from fossil fuels. This charging from fossil fuels may end up causing 10 percent more greenhouse gas than normal gasoline engines and 60 percent more than standard hybrids.
There are benefits, though; these vehicles often times weigh much more, due to the increase in batteries, than their gasoline only counterparts, resulting in 27 percent less injuries for Prius passengers.
To help combat the carbon dioxide in their Tsutsumi plant in Japan, Toyota has planted more than 50,000 trees, coated the walls in a special paint to absorb airborne gases and even used genetically modified grass that grows slower so it needs to be cut once a year.
With everything said and done, the car will release less emissions than gasoline alone cars, but is it enough for you?