I read an interesting article recently. Apparently, the plastic and other synthetic materials that can be found in the interior of a motor vehicle might be highly toxic allergens. We already know that dust and mold often lurk unseen inside vehicles. Now, it seems there could be other risks too.
Could be is the operative term. Although the warnings about car interiors are coming from a group with scientific roots, the Ecology Center, an enviromental watchdog group, some experts say the studies they are using as a basis for their report are flawed.
Still, they have proved at least on a small scale that some vehicles do produce chemical fumes associated with the substances phthalates and brominated flame retardants. Phthalates are used to make plastic feel softer. These chemicals can be found on windshields, glove compartments, seats and more, and heat can release them.
HealthyCar.org, a website maintained by the Ecology Center, ranks various automobile makes and models in relation to these potential toxins. Most car manufacturers don’t appear to be too concerned at present. Volvo, however, has employed a clean air policy since 1998. You won’t find that “new car smell” in a new Volvo.
So, should you be concerned? I believe the jury is still out on that one, but it it something to be aware of, particularly if you find that your allergies worsen every time you get into your car, as mine do
Kathi is an experienced consumer health education writer, with a prior career in nursing that spanned more than 30 years — much of it in the field of home health care. Over the past 15 years, she’s been an avid contributor for a number of consumer health websites, specializing in asthma, allergy, and COPD. She writes not only as a healthcare professional, but also as a lifelong sufferer of severe allergies and mild asthma, and as a caregiver for her mother with COPD.