- San Fernando Valley Sierra Club newsletter, May-June, 2006 & July 2009
So You Like that “New Car Smell?” Think again.
(#10 of the Plastic Plague Series)
by Sarah S. Mosko, Ph.D.
Titled Toxic At Any Speed, the study measured levels of PBDEs (flame retardants) and phthalates (used to soften plastics) in both interior car dust and windshield film samples from cars made by 11 leading auto manufacturers.
These chemicals exude from seat covers, instrument panels, floor coverings and other plastic parts. Studies in lab animals have linked exposure to a variety of health effects, including neuro-developmental damage, liver toxicity, endocrine hormone disruption, premature birth and learning impairments. Levels of these toxins were as much as 5-10 times higher than found in homes and offices. With Americans averaging over 100 minutes per day in their cars, it makes you stop and think.
The good news is that safer alternatives are available and taking hold in Japan and Europe. A few American auto manufacturers may be getting on board as well. For now, you can take action to protect your family by keeping your car well-ventilated and by parking in the shade since heat and UV light promote higher levels of toxins.