Hybrid, fuel-cell and all-electric vehicles are viewed by many as the future of the motoring world but there is a growing fear that the flow of electrical current from the motors that power such vehicles produces harmful magnetic fields, which some scientists associate with a number of health risks including increased risk of cancer. Magnetic fields are all around us in our everyday lives – produced by everything from mobile phones to hair dryers – but in the case of an EV or hybrid prolonged exposure because of high power cables located close to the driver and passengers could compound the effects.

Initial tests on current hybrid vehicles using simple hand-held meters are starting to show alarming results, reports The New York Times. Furthermore, the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute acknowledge the potential hazards of long-term exposure to a strong electromagnetic field and the harmful effects of living near high-voltage utility lines.

Currently, there is no regulatory standard over what level of exposure constitutes a health hazard or what should be the maximum limit, however carmakers such as Honda and Toyota claim internals tests have shown there is no risk to motorists.

Researchers are still sitting on the fence, saying there’s no need to be alarmed but the potential health risk should not be ignored either.