Hidden Dangers of That New Car Smell

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Ah, the smell of a new car! It is the smell of success, an inextricable part of America's love affair with the automobile, the scent of a three-ton version of Proust's madeleine. But as we're finding out about the chemical origins and the biological consequences of that new-car smell, many of us are moving from "How do I preserve it?" to "How do I get away from it?"


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Image: Elliott Wagland/Whitehotpix via ZUMA Press.

Not much is being said or written about the dangers of toxins in car interiors, but it will come, as increasingly the chemicals used in the manufacture of car interiors are implicated in a wide spectrum of health problems, ranging from eye irritation to endocrine disruption and cancer.

Some of us are already in the process of de-toxing our homes, our food, our personal care products. So in a way, investigating the car is the obvious next step. And I am sorry to bring bad tidings, but it's a nightmare in there.

It's similar to sick-building syndrome, but because so much plastic is off-gassing in such a confined space, the level of toxins inside a car can get very high, and you don't need to be very chemically sensitive to have a bad reaction.  Pay attention to those reactions: your body is wise about such things.

Considering how much time we (and our children) spend in the close atmosphere of our cars, you would think it ought to be covered by a slew of legislation, policies and guidelines.  It is not.  It's pretty much up to us to make the air we breathe inside our cars safe for our selves and our families.  Fortunately, there are a number of things we can do that will take us a long way toward that goal;  some are as simple as opening the window.

The original post has more details of the problem, and some solutions.

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