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.”

More

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.

Even Research Scientist, Dr Geoffrey Evens Suffers with MCS-like Symptoms with New Cars

Someone once dropped in a comment about how if the President of the USA got Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) how life would begin to change quickly for people who suffer with conditions related to chemical sensitivity, particularly, MCS. More and more people are becoming sensitive to chemicals all the time, and now, the Metro reports that retired laboratory Research Scientist, Dr Geoffrey Evens suffered chemical sensitivity after buying a new Audi A1:

“Dr Geoffrey Evans, 64, gets a ‘stinging, burning sensation’ across his entire body every time he takes his £18,000 Audi A1 for a drive.

Dr Evans, who has a PHD in combustion chemistry, reckons the reaction is caused by the Formaldehyde found in the car’s upholstery and plastics which is the catalyst.

He claims he was initially told by an Audi salesman that their cars did not contain the chemical… “

Is there a car company who makes cars safer for people sensitive to chemicals or chemically injured?

Have you too had symptoms from a new car? When you complained about it, did they look into it, recall all models, fixing the issue so others don’t get sick also? Probably not… But Dr Evans going to the media about this issue could just be the wake up call the car industry needs! Good on you, Dr Evans!

“Speaking about the huge problem and risk to his health, he said: ‘Obviously, it is a nightmare. It’s not the best thing to come of buying a new car because I can’t use it that much.

‘It’s bringing out all kinds of rashes which start burning at first, then the red spots appear.

‘It has also made me have to bathe my eyelids twice a day to get rid of the terrible redness it gives my skin.

‘I believe this allergy all started when I was handling chemicals on a daily basis working as a Research Chemist in the lab.

The story is a familiar one, isn’t it? One big, or several smaller chemical exposures, and Bam! your immune system is under attack:

‘You body is sometimes aware of the allergies and they can remain in your body. But it does not necessarily react with you straight away – only when you get run down.’

As soon as he bought his flash new vehicle in December, the retired research scientist said: ‘I got chronic eczema on my legs and it just sets off go red and burning when I get to it.

Dr Evans, of Barnsley, South Yorks., says he is waiting to hear back from the Audi dealership to see if they can do to ease his plight.

He said that Audi have since confirmed they do have small amounts of the chemical in the plastics of their car.

He previously had a Rover 211 and had no problems until he decided on a new Audi A1 1.4 TFSI sportback.

Evans also suffers similar symptoms to those bought on by driving his car as to those he gets using household cleaning products. It would seem, with safer chemical standards bought in by REACH in Europe along with their stricter (than Australian and US) safety standards, that a car made in Europe would be a safer bet. Apparently not in this case!

Have you had better luck with a European car than one made in China, the US or Australia? Do you think it matters where the car is made for it to be a healthier consumer choice? Do you know of a company who makes safer cars suitable for people with chemical injuries, or sensitivities to chemical irritants? 

Read More

Metro UK: Guy forked out £20k for a car… turns out he’s allergic to it

The Labyrinth: The infrastructure Australia needs to make electric cars viable

The Labyrinth: Is Your New Car [Chemical] Smell Harming You?

The Labyrinth: How to have a Low-Chemical Car

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.

Is Your New Car [Chemical] Smell Harming You?

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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