Not So Fresh After All: New car smell might be carcinogenic, says new Environmental Science and Technology study

Toronto, Ontario — According to findings published in the Journal Environmental Science and Technology, the flame retardant chemicals added to seat foam and other automotive components can pollute the cabin air inside the vehicle and also have carcinogenic properties.

In the study, researchers noted that the chemical tri (1-chloro-isopropyl) phosphate (TCIPP) alongside others are added to vehicles based on outdated flammability standards in North America that currently, do not represent any proven fire-safety benefits.

Of the vehicles tested during the study, researchers found flame retardant inside the cabins of over 100 vehicles from model years 2015 and newer. Seats foam samples from 51 of the tested vehicles also directly connected flame retardants in the cushioning to airborne chemicals inside the vehicles.

Testing also found higher flame retardant concentrations during warmer weather.

For researchers, these chemicals translate to potentially dangerous health risks such as neurological side effects. Notably, previous studies indicate that the average United States child has lost three to five IQ points from exposure to the flame retardants used in vehicles.

Moreover, according to KPVI, another recent paper estimated that people with the highest levels of this flame retardant in their blood have a quadrupled risk of dying from cancer, compared to those who have the lowest levels.

“You may be able to reduce your exposure to flame retardants in your car by opening your windows and parking in the shade,” said researcher Lydia Jahl, a senior scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute.”

To see the full report, click here.

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