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Toxins Responsible for that ‘New Car Smell’

| Thursday February 16th, 2012 | 1 Comment

Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center released its fourth consumer guide to toxic chemicals in cars. Over 200 of the most popular models last year were tested for chemicals present in the dashboard, armrests, seats etc.

These chemicals are responsible to the “new car smell” and are linked to many health concerns. Toxic chemicals inside vehicles are an often neglected, but major source of indoor air pollution.

The major chemicals of concern include bromine, chlorine and lead. These have all been linked to birth defects, liver toxicity, and hormone disruption in laboratory animals.

The plastic in the dashboard, steering wheel, and other places can release volatile organic compounds as temperatures inside the car can reach 192 – 248°F especially when vehicles are parked in the hot sun. Car users are exposed to these chemicals by breathing the air in the car as well as contact with dust.

According to Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center: “Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces. Since these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face.  Our testing is intended to expose those dangers and encourage manufacturers to use safer alternatives.”

HealthyStuff.org has information on cars, models, and fuel efficiency standards that car buyers can cross reference before purchase. According to the research, the best models include Honda Civic, Toyota Prius, and Honda CR-V. The worst picks include  Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Chrysler 200, and Kia Soul. Honda was listed as the top manufacturer across the board and their efforts towards PVC reduction was hailed. The Mitsubishi Outlander, on the other hand, contained bromine and antimony-based flame retardants in the seating and center console; chromium treated leather on several components; and over 400 ppm lead in seating materials.

The Ecology Center deems that the best vehicles have eliminated hazardous flame retardants and PVC. According to them, 17 percent of new vehicles have PVC -free interiors and 60 percent are produced without brominated flame retardants. According to statistics, the average American spends more than 1.5 hours in a car every day, inhaling toxic chemicals. Therefore, visitors to the website are encouraged to contact car manufacturers and ask them to subscribe to voluntary third party eco labels, such as the TUV Toxproof and Öko-Tex Standard 100, and reduce their use of toxic chemicals in vehicles.  A number of leading automakers, including Ford (TUV) and Volvo (Oko Tex), have already adopted these standards for some of their vehicles.

Image Credit: HealthyStuff.org © 

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Shayna Samuels, Ripple Strategies.

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  • Erubin001

    I put a moso bag in my car.  That helped remove all the toxins.   mosonatural.com I got it form here.