That New Car Smell is Unhealthy and Toxic
Most of us love that new car smell, but that new car smell is unhealthy and toxic and instead of inhaling deeply when we get into a new car, instead we should be immediately rolling down our car windows and letting as much fresh air in as we possible!
New cars are manufactured from a dangerous mix of man-made, synthetic and plastic based materials, that are anything but safe for our health. Read this report about what hazardous materials you can expect to find in the interior of a new car. This report even charts what toxic materials where found in each individual brand of car tested.
Hazardous Materials In New Cars
That intoxicating smell is just that ‘toxic’!
It is a combination of some very harmful VOCs, (Volatile Organic Compounds), such as Benzene, Acetone, Ethyl Benzene and Xylene Isomers and well as Phthalates and PBDEs,(flame retardant chemicals) that are given off from the various materials used to make, treat and glue together the interior of your brand new car; e.g. the seats, door panels, dashboards, air-conditioning unit, upholstery and all the other components that make up the glossy new interior of your car.
Carcinogenic Phthalate Exposure From PVC Plastic In New Cars
Today all car interiors are made from a mix of synthetic fabrics, of chemically treated leather and plastic moldings, which unfortunately includes a lot of PVC, (Poly Vinyl Chloride) – one of the most toxic and environmentally destructive plastics on the planet.
PVC constantly leaches carcinogenic Dioxins from the Phthalates, which soften PVC plastics and are extremely hazardous the general environment and to human and animal health. When you add to this the various paints, polishes and chemical adhesives used to stick these parts together, it is no wonder that there is a strong smell emitted by new cars.
Side Effects Of Exposure To VOC’s In New Cars
For people who are sensitive to artificial scents, this new car smell can make them feel quite light-headed and nauseous.
Studies have shown that the VOCs in new cars can exacerbate allergies and asthma and give sensitive people, flu like symptoms. Accumulative exposure to these types of VOCs can cause cancer, birth defects and serious neurological effects.
Sadly as always, children are more at risk as they breathe in more of this polluted air in respect to their body size.
You will find that some people can almost become addicted to that new car smell, much like people become addicted to sniffing glue and paint.
Did you know that the car industry has actually come up with a synthetic fragrance, one that you can spray into an older car to mimic that ‘just new’ car smell!
According to this article in Chemical and Engineering News, “A standard measure for automakers is to keep the gross amount of VOCs emitted by the textiles and flexible plastics low enough to prevent repeated fogging of window interiors. Each car manufacturer has its own standard for total VOCs in cars, one car company spokesman says, but he is unaware of any government standards regulating air quality inside new vehicles. “ To read the full article click here.
One study done found over 50 different types of VOCs in just one brand/model of new car.
The founder of the well respected Wikipedia website, Jimmy Wales has actually written a personal appeal, warning all new car owners to be vigilant with airing their new cars. His article is well worth reading, click here.
CSIRO Find Carcinogenic Chemicals In New Cars
So what type of chemicals have been found in new cars? According to a 2 year study by CSIRO here in Australia, amongst others toxic chemicals they found the well documented carcinogen Benzene, along with two other potential carcinogens, Styrene & Cyclohexanone.
Another study in the US found that in stationary cars and especially on hotter days, the VOC levels go up considerably. This makes sense, as many plastics, paints and adhesives will start to leach under hot conditions. Even in older cars if left in the heat with all the windows closed the VOC levels can rise considerably.
You can read more about the different levels in the report above by Air Quality Sciences.
How To Minimize Your Exposure To VOC’s In New Cars
The good news is that the levels of these very dangerous VOCs drop off considerably to more acceptable levels within half a year. The NHMRC, (Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council) did a study on the VOC levels found inside 3 different brands of new cars and by the time the cars were 6 months old, they found that the VOCs had finally reached an acceptable level.
Some of the various well know car manufacturers are consciously doing their bit to try and reduce the level of these toxic VOCs in new cars. Japan leads the way, with some models of their well known car brands even using the ‘lower interior VOCs’ as a selling point. In the US, General Motors is the first car manufacturer to eliminate PVC from their interior paneling. Volvo and Ford have also done a small amount to improve the air quality in some of their models, but there is still a very long way for them to all go, before the VOCs found in new cars are at safer levels.
But we are able to thankfully, protect ourselves quite considerably, simply by taking the following steps below.
Just by allowing fresh air into your new car, you will lower the VOCs down to a much safer level!
It is wise to get in the habit of doing these steps whether your car is new or not, but it is especially important if your car is under 6 months old!!
- Air your car for a couple minutes if you can before you get in, especially in warmer weather. Do this by opening all the doors!
- Leave the doors open while you get yourself and children organized into the car. *For safety’s sake remember small children should always be harnessed in before leaving their door open, to make sure they don’t jump out of the car and onto the road.
- Always leave a window open when in the car on hot days. Even if you have the air-conditioning on, still leave a window open a little, this will help to circulate the air.