The high demand for the lithium ion batteries that power electric vehicles like those produced by Tesla Motors could potentially do more harm than good to the environment, according to a report Sunday from The Washington Post.

The electric vehicle automaker uses Panasonic batteries, which, according to the report, uses graphite derived from mines in China. The mines are raining graphite particles down on the residents of several villages in northeastern in the country.

Tesla told reporters its batteries do not include graphite from the Chinese company BTR, yet declined to identify its graphite source. Nearly 75 percent of the world’s graphite comes from the northeastern section of the China. The company’s refusal to explain where its graphite is produced could raise questions about the environmental soundness of its vehicles.

Panasonic, one of the largest manufacturers of Tesla’s lithium ion batteries, is forking over $1.6 billion to the cost of Tesla’s “gigafactory,” a massive factory meant to build the company’s lithium ion batteries. Tesla believes the Nevada-based plant will produce about 500,000 electric-car batteries annually.

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