New Car Smell Pollution Identified

Did you ever wonder about that new car smell? People are obsessed with it–there’s even a toxic chemical air freshener that promises just that scent. But the chemicals behind the new car smell aren’t so pretty.

The chemicals that go into the manufacturing of new cars include PBDE flame retardants, as well as volatile organic compounds–also known as VOCs–such as benzene and styrene. These toxic chemicals have been linked to birth defects, learning disabilities and cancer.

The World Health Organization identified vehicle indoor air pollution as a major threat to human health. And given that most of us now spend more than 90 minutes in a car every day, this is a serious problem.

What to do? Buy used! And if you’re on the market, take a look at the Ecology Center’s rating of 2011/2012 new car models (the most recent report). Yes, it’s a little out of date, but if you’re buying new, you can still assess manufacturers and learn what to look out for.



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