Surprise: That New Car Smell Could Be Killing You


surprise that new car smell could be killing you

Think twice about sniffing a big hit of your car’s cabin air. Almost everyone loves the fabled new car smell, but a recent study suggests that some of that fragrance could be toxic to the people inhaling it. People reported on data from the Environmental Science and Technology publication that found toxic flame retardant materials in 99 percent of cars it studied.

The publication analyzed the cabin air quality of 101 vehicles across 30 states, including EVs, gas, and hybrid models, between model years 2015 and 2022. Shockingly, the vast majority of them contained a flame-retardant material called TCIPP, which is under investigation as a carcinogen. Most also had two other materials already classified as carcinogenic, including TDCIPP and TCEP.

The study’s lead researcher, Rebecca Hoehn, noted that drivers spend an average of an hour in their vehicles every day, presenting significant concerns about people with longer daily commutes and younger passengers. Hot weather increased the interior off-gassing, which comes mainly from the foam in seat cushions. Though they’re intended to slow a fire, emergency first responders are concerned that the materials will goose their already high cancer rates. Experts told People that drivers could roll down windows and park in shaded areas to reduce the off-gassing, but noted that a reduction in the materials is a better solution.

Some are urging the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to revise its standards and push automakers to achieve flame resistance without cancer-causing chemicals, but no such policies have yet been announced.

[Image: PixieMe via Shutterstock]

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