Cars in Australia and the US: Is the New Car Smell Bad for your Health?

Of course we all remember the article, a little while back now, about how: Dr Geoffrey Evens Suffers with MCS-like Symptoms with New Cars? Evens, the Research Scientist who bought a new car that set of his formaldehyde allergy he picked up while working in a laboratory for years. Well, the gist of this story is long-winded, something that’s not going away fast, for many of us.

In ‘How toxic is your new car?‘ by Building Biologist and author of Healthy Home Healthy Family, Nicole Bijlsma, answers to some of our questions are put forward:

Ever wondered what that new car smell was doing to your health?

Well if you drive a Honda Civic or CR-Z or Toyota Prius you can breathe easy as they were rated the healthiest. If however you recently purchased a Mitsubishi Outlander or Chrysler (family cars) consider wearing a respirator and tyvek suit – they were the worst. A study conducted by consumer advocate HealthyStuff.org (US) investigated the pollution in cars. There are over 275 different chemicals in the interiors of new cars many of which are associated with birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer (HealthyStuff.org, 2012). Cars were assessed for a variety of toxins including PVC (hormone disrupting chemical), heavy metals such as lead (behavioural disorders) and cadmium (carcinogenic) and brominated flame retardants.

You can Read more here

In Is the New Car Smell Bad for your Health?, written by Jim Travers and published by BBC Autos, the article is ripe with helpful information for consumers:

“There are over 200 chemical compounds found in vehicles,” he said. “Since these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face.”

Since these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face. 

Just reading a list of the substances is scary enough, and makes your car’s interior sound like a hazmat hall of fame. Benzene, toluene, formaldehyde, and heavy metals are all part of the mix. And the danger of exposure is scarier still. Immediate symptoms can range from a sore throat to headaches, dizziness, allergic reactions and nausea, depending on the sensitivity of an individual.

For people already sensitive to formaldehyde and other chemicals, choosing a car can be difficult, especially if the fragrance used in most 2nd hand cars puts many of them out of reach. However, there is great news from BBC Auto when it comes to buying new cars:

Automakers we spoke with, including Fiat/ChryslerFordGeneral Motors and Honda all say they’ve taken steps to reduce VOC levels in their vehicles, along with other substances of concern (SOCs). They say they’ve accomplished this primarily by using different materials, coatings and adhesives in manufacturing, and all say they are continuing to look for ways to reduce the use of potentially harmful substances in their cars.

One known carcinogen that seems to be on the way out is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which the Ecology Center found was used in virtually all new car interiors in 2006. By 2012, that number was down to 73%. Manufacturers say PVC use continues to decline, and Honda, for one, claims to have eliminated it entirely from interiors of most models.

Other companies like Ford are trying out alternatives like soy padding used in the seats. However, while Australia and the US lag behind the European Union’s REACH program (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and restriction of CHemical substances), designed to protect consumers from harmful chemical irritants, allergens and toxic chemicals, the BBC suggests:

” … the best thing that buyers can do to limit exposure is to keep car interiors well ventilated, especially during the first six months of ownership. Park in the shade with the windows open when it’s safe to do so, or at least try to air it out before getting inside — especially on hot days.

Avoid sitting in the car while it is parked, and use a windshield solar shade to minimize heat buildup. The Ecology Center also advises frequent passes with a microfiber towel and a non-toxic cleaner, especially when a vehicle is new. “Chemicals like to hang out in the dust,” said Gearhart.

And for those who are especially sensitive to chemicals, he suggests making an extended sit behind the wheel part of the test drive, to see if symptoms or irritation start to develop.

“Spend time in the vehicle before purchasing it,” said Gearhart. “Or even consider buying a used car.”

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The New Ecology Center guide to toxic chemicals in cars helps consumers avoid a major source of indoor air pollution. Honda rated the best again due to reductions in PVCs.

Nicole Bijlsma: How Toxic is Your Car

Jim Travers, BBC Autos: Is the New Car Smell Bad for your Health?

This report contains vehicle screening as well as historic test results for nearly 1,000 vehicles: 2011/2012 Guide to New Vehicles

In the US: SaferCar.gov is the NHTSA site where you can identify and report problems you might be having with your vehicle, tires, equipment or car seats

The New Ecology Center guide to toxic chemicals in cars helps consumers avoid a major source of indoor air pollution

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Please Help Cheryl Poland

On Facebook, I have a friend whom, although I don’t that well, her story, especially here in Australia is one that’s becoming worryingly common: a person with chronic illness unable to access appropriate care because the country’s medical system and insurance companies do not have a medically defined code for MCS (Multiple Chemical Sensitivity). Perhaps it doesn’t exist then, you ask? Well if that’s the case there are over 20 overlapping conditions that involve sensitivity to chemicals. A case in point is my own recent diagnosis of CIRS, which was given by a Doctor of Integrative Medicine; someone who usually diagnoses (sadly, unofficially due to the AMA, NICNAS and the Australian Government (in power at the moment); a diagnosis which, gratefully, many in the medical field take seriously) MCS!

In the US they have a similar story, however, chemical usage is more abundant; with the right to poison your neighbours thrown about, and often, with the same consequences, as the right to bear arms. Cheryl Poland’s story may be one becoming more common; however, Cheryl is a human being who, like all humans, deserves the right to prompt medical attention and treatment. She was recently admitted to hospital, although she cannot afford it. Please read Cheryl’s GoFundMe story and donate if you can. I know I will: my next pay cheque, I pledge to give Cheryl $10. It’s all I can afford, trying to remediate my possessions, my health, ready for a safe home of my own. However, I see Cheryl’s plight and I don’t want her to be alone. I want to put my arms around her and tell her it will be okay but with oceans between us, this is the best thing I can do to help her.

Please donate:

“My name is Kristen Decker and I’m fundraising for a friend of mine, Cheryl Poland Bixenman.

Click image to go to Cheryl's Go Fund Me page. and support her medical bills so she can find treatment for her symptoms caused by a chemical injury

Click image to go to Cheryl’s Go Fund Me page.

Cheryl Poland Bixenman had a normal and happy life until one fateful evening on November 17, 2007 when her husband decided to throw diesel fuel into the furnace rather than the normal oil he usually used. Though Cheryl protested he quickly shused her saying it would be fine before he darted out the door for a weekend hunting trip. Cheryl spent that weekend, while he was gone, dozing in and out of conciousness, waking only long enough to draw some breaths of fresh air as she took the dog out in a confused state. These breaths of fresh air were ultimately what saved her from the carbon monoxide poisening that was quickly ravishing her body. After days of falling in and out of sleep Cheryl finally dragged herself to her computer to do a Google search of her symptoms. When she saw carbon monoxide poisoning come up in a search she quickly called the firemen in. The fireman located the source of the carbon monoxide poisoning and quickly shut it off, leaving Cheryl with the instructions that she had to leave her home. Unfortunately she was never told that she needed oxygen therapy to prevent the long term effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.

That fateful weekend Cheryl nearly lost her life, but little did she know, the nightmares were only beginning. It didn’t take long to realize that something wasn’t right. Not only did Cheryl suffer long term effects from the carbon monoxide poisoning, but suddenly she began to have piercing headaches that burned with such intensity it affected Cheryl’s entire head and face. Cheryl had developed occipital neuralgia as well as trigeminal neuralgia which is often referred to as suicide disease because of the amount of pain it causes. The pain from these diseases is relentless. It never subsides or eases up. It’s there when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night. It is crippling pain that affects everything you can and can’t do.

As if Cheryl was not suffering enough, her husband could not deal with her pain and he sent her on her way with a twenty dollar bill and a bottle of water. Cheryl was now left to fend for herself with excruciating pain that never left her side. Cheryl managed to get on disability and find subsidized housing, but what was at first a blessing quickly became another component of her nightmare. It didn’t take long to find that the apartment had mold and the apartments have refused to do anything about it. Unfortunately the apartments are not required to remediate the mold. The only right Cheryl has is the right to break her lease with no penalty.

With disability as her only source of income and medical bills piling high there is no way that Cheryl can afford to move.

I am doing this fundraiser because I had trigeminal neuralgia and there is a surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN that cured me of my Trigeminal Neuralgia. Cheryl’s medical history is complex and requires doctors equipped to handle complex cases to succeed with any chance of a normal life. Cheryl has attempted to get care locally and doctors are failing her miserably. Cheryl does not feel like she could go to Mayo alone. Though Cheryl lives in Fairfax, Virginia and I live in Indiana, it is my dream to accompany her to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN to get the surgical procedure that will cure her trigeminal neuralgia and get diagnostic testing and treatment for the other disorders Cheryl has. With chemical sensitivity to medications, Cheryl cannot take many of the medications that would help alleviate her symptoms. This requires a complex medical team who specializes in the complexity of cases like Cheryls.

Cheryl used to be an interior designer and has an absolute passion for it! Not only would she love to return to work, but it is crucial to her stability and success in this world. If I can get Mayo to cure her or significantly control her symptoms so she could return to work and get back on her feet I would be over joyed. I’d also like to help get her back on her feet and help her repair her car, catch up on rent, and pay off her medical bills.

Any prayers or donations would be such a blessing during this dark time in Cheryl’s life. Cheryl is in a deep deep depression and suffers from PTSD and anxiety. To be able to get her the treatment she deserves at Mayo as well as help her get back on her feet would be so amazing. I watch Cheryl’s struggle daily and it is my dream to be able to put an end to it. I feel strongly that God has placed me in Cheryl’s life to help her get this treatment she so deserves! Please help be a part of our tean and contribute whatever you can. Even if each of my friends and Cheryl’s friends contributed a dollar that would be an awesome step in the right direction to make a difference in Cheryl’s life! Please help me bring some quality back to Cheryl’s life!

You can read more and donate to Cheryl’s worthwhile and important here. You can send prayers, well wishes to Cheryl from anywhere in the world <3

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

MCS YouTube: Living Natural Today

Today I bring you another YouTuber who is sensitive to chemical irritants: Teresa Jungling from Living Natural Today. In the video clip below she shares her story while offering sage advice for people who are going through similar struggles to what she once was. Once she moved from a mouldy house, she found her the state of her health began to recover, naturally! Inspiring, I know. More from Jungling:

Minimizing toxins — throughout all areas of our house — is one of the many, overarching strategies I implemented that helped transform my health! Chemicals from everyday products that I used in the kitchen, bathroom, living room, bed room and laundry room had, over time, wreaked havoc on my body. Unfortunately, I had ignored seemingly innocent symptoms for far too long and my toxic bucket spilled over with disease setting in. I visited doctor after doctor — and had test after test performed. I was exasperated and frustrated. Then my “angel” nurse helped put me on a path that literally changed my life… But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself…”

Check out the video below:

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If you’d like more information from Living Natural Today, click here

And you can visit the Environmental Working Group (EWG)  here

 (Views expressed in featured YouTube videos are not always that same as those here at The Labyrinth)

Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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