If you’re like most people, you probably love the smell of a new car. It’s great to savor the aroma as you drive your new vehicle off of the lot. However, what you’re smelling is actually something far less wholesome. The smell of a new car is made up of a slurry of toxic chemicals, many of them highly carcinogenic, that are off-gassing into the air. When you consider the fact that people spend an average of one and a half hours sitting in their cars each day, that’s pretty scary. Here are some of the chemicals that are responsible for the new car smell and what they’re capable of.
Bromine is most commonly used in flame retardants and may also be used in the manufacture of plastics and other materials. This substance can be found in the seat belts, dashboard and upholstery of your car. Bromine has some fairly nasty effects on health, being associated with thyroid damage, behavioral problems, impaired memory and reproductive difficulties. It is also known to cause damage to the liver, kidneys and brain. The breakdown and subsequent release of bromine into the air is accelerated by heat and sun exposure.
This metal is widely recognized as a serious risk to health and safety, yet its use persists in places where prolonged exposure is guaranteed. Contrary to popular belief, the use of lead in consumer products has not been banned and it is often used in plastics as a softener and stabilizer. Unfortunately, these tainted materials can be found inside of your car, where you and your family can inhale the lead particles and absorb them transdermally. Some of the risks associated with lead exposure include damage to the nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, blood and reproductive system. It is easily passed from mother to baby through breast milk and the placenta.
This chemical is used as a component of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and can cause a number of health problems. Skin problems such as psoriasis, eczema and chronic rashes are among these, with exposure victims often being at a loss as to what could be causing their symptoms. In addition, chlorine exposure has also been linked to infertility, miscarriage, premature birth, cancer, heart disease and neurological damage.
Besides lead, car interiors can contain three other toxic heavy metals: hexavalent chromium, mercury and cadmium. These things are used in the manufacture of plastics and electronic components and present a serious health risk. Hexavalent chromium, which many people became familiar with after the movie Erin Brockvich was released, is tied to cancers, kidney and liver damage and severe respiratory problems. Mercury is extremely neurotoxic and can be blamed for behavioral and developmental disorders, cognitive problems and reproductive system damage. Cadmium, which is less well-known than the previous metals, can cause damage of the lungs, kidneys and bones. Flu-like symptoms may result from prolonged exposure.
Although the word may sound funny, phthalates are no laughing matter. Phthalic acid is used as a plasticizer, meaning that it is added to plastics to make them flexible. Any of the soft plastics or imitation leathers in your car’s interior will contain them, possibly including the arm rests, dashboard, steering wheel and seats. Since phthalic acid is an endocrine disruptor, it is capable of causing infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, hormonal imbalances and breast cancer. Studies on the effects of this chemical have shown that children typically experience far greater exposure, and therefore toxicity, than adults. Unfortunately, phthalates are easily absorbed by the body through skin exposure and inhalation.
Formaldehyde is added to the carpeting in your car and some say that it is the primary contributor to the new car smell. However, formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent. Furthermore, formaldehyde exposure can put you at risk for serious respiratory disturbances, sleep problems, unexplained fatigue, mood disorders and digestive problems.
While these threats to your health are probably not going away any time soon, there are ways that you can minimize your exposure to them. Some car makes and models contain fewer of them than others, so look for a list of them online before you decide to buy. Because these chemicals are released into the air more rapidly when exposed to direct sunlight, park your car in the shade whenever you can. Also, leaving your windows cracked on a hot day will help prevent the buildup of toxic gases.
Are you looking for ways to save money on your car? Go online to www.Kanetix.ca today to compare insurance quotes from the top insurance providers in Canada. Within minutes, you could save hundreds of dollars on your car insurance rate by just filling out an online application.