"New Car Smell" is a Dangerous Toxic Chemical Cocktail

by Cassandra R. Elias

In the News: "New Car Smell" is a Toxic Cocktail

Dangers of New Car SmellYou're cruising along in your shiny new car taking nice deep breaths, just enjoying the smell of leather, new floor mats, luxury and excitement.

That heady aroma used to be called new car smell. Now we refer to it as a possibly deadly concentration of bromine, chlorine and various other nasty chemicals.

These chemicals have been linked to a wide range of health problems such as allergies, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer.

This hodgepodge of chemicals comes straight from the factory and is a by-product from the manufacturing of seats, steering wheels, dashboards and armrests, according to consumer advocate HealthyStuff.org.

The EPA estimates indoor air pollution levels can be two to five times higher than outdoor air pollution levels. They rank indoor air pollution one of the top five environmental risks to public health.

Next to homes and offices, we spend the most time in cars -- 1.5 hours a day on average. HealthyStuff.org tested over 200 new cars for "indoor pollution."

The good news is overall vehicle ratings are improving. The best vehicles today have eliminated hazardous flame retardants and PVC. Today, 17 percent of new vehicles have PVC-free interiors and 60 percent are produced without BFRs (Brominated Flame Retardant).

Top ranking cars in this year's release are: 1) Honda Civic 2) Toyota Prius and 3) Honda CR-Z. Worst ranking: 1) Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 2) Chrysler 200 SC and 3) Kia Soul.

2011-2012 Best and Worst Picks
2011-2012 Best and Worst Picks

Your Action Points

  • Comparison shop between different models, and cross reference with fuel economy standards to find both a healthy and fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • Before you get in, roll your window down or lift the hatchback a few minutes to reduce chemical concentrations.

What do you think of these findings? Do you drive one of these cars? If you're looking at these vehicles, will this news change your mind on purchasing these models?

Copyright © Pregnancy.org. Photo courtesy of healthystuff.org.