Anyone who loves the smell of new cars should be forewarned that the chemicals producing that smell can be hazardous to a person’s health. A 2001 study conducted by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in 2001 and a 2006 report released by the Ecology Center which is entitled, “Toxic at Any Speed: Chemicals in Cars and the Need for Safe Alternatives,” both show that the chemical smells given off by new cars are infect toxic and make people sick.
Overall, the smell is made up of the chemicals used for constructing the leather and vinyl which, when overheated, give off fumes. Essentially, some of the chemical compounds used in the leather tanning process and in making vinyl are carcinogens, most notably is the known carcinogen benzene. Many notable companies such as Sony Ericsson and Apple Inc. are attempting to reduce the use of these compounds in plastics production under advice from the Environmental Protection Agency. These plastics are used in producing their products. Also used in making new cars are other volatile organic compounds (made of carbon) including toluene, chloride, formaldehyde, methylene, and of course, benzene. In fact, these compounds, when heated within a new car, tend to pollute the car’s air up to 35 times more if the same compounds are used in building a new home, according to a Japanese study.
The problem with these new car smells is that it makes many people sick. The fumes given off for the first six to eight months after a car has been produced have been linked with nausea, dizziness and other symptoms that make up the sickness known as “sick building syndrome.” Sick building syndrome was noted when people started complaining of the same symptoms after moving into a newly built or remodeled home. The carpets, walls and other materials used in the construction or remodeling of that home give off fumes, thus making a new home toxic to live in for some months.
Even more importantly, the level of Polybrominated diphenyl ethers which are used in making flame retardant materials, are even more toxic than the simple “new car smell.” The problem is that these chemicals also contribute to the smell. These chemicals emit toxins so damaging that breathing in the air saturated with these chemicals after purchasing a new car can impair a child’s learning in addition to polluting the fetus’s blood, possibly exposing it to learning problems. While many Japanese car companies are reducing the use of all of the chemicals that make the “new car smell,” most American companies, such s GE and Ford Motors, are not.
Louise Baker is a freelance writer and blogger who usually does car insurance comparisons over at CarinsuranceComparison.Org. She recently wrote about finding cheap car insurance quotes.