Australian scientists warned drivers and passengers of new cars that danger
lurks within their brand new vehicles. It is not the soft fabric or leather that
encases comfortable bucket seats, or the shining new dashboard, or the
designs of the sporty steering wheel that harbor the danger. It is the
reassuring smell of the new car that spells danger. The odor actually contains
high levels of toxic air emissions that can make the driver and passengers ill.
A research organization in Australia conducted a comprehensive research
on three cars. Drivers were asked to keep logs on how they felt and reacted to
the lush interiors of their cars. The researchers also carried out observations
on the reactions of the drivers and at the same time interviewed them.
Anecdotal evidence was therefore carefully gathered and
results revealed that the very smell of a new car that enthralls the new owner,
contains high levels of toxic emissions. What is even more alarming is the fact
that these toxic emissions are present in cars even after 6 months or longer of
leaving the showroom.
Anecdotal evidence during the study revealed that drivers were becoming
ill when they drove their new cars. A lawyer reported being ill with headaches,
lung irritation, and swellings for several days after collecting a new car and
driving it for only 10 minutes.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)
is Australia's main scientific body. They conducted a research on the toxicity of
the interior of new cars over a period of two years. Steve Brown, the head of
the CSIRO's air quality control research unit draws a parallel between the
home and the car. He says, "Just as air inside our homes and workplaces is
often much more polluted than the air outside, so sitting in your new car can
expose you to levels of toxic emissions that are many times beyond health
The toxic emissions contain many chemicals and they include for example,
benzene, acetone, ethylbenzene, and xylene isomers. The effects of each are far
from benign. Benzene is a cancer-causing agent, acetone is a mucosal irritant,
ethylbenzene is a systemic toxic agent, and xylene isomers is a foetal
development toxic agent.
So what are the precautions that new car owners have to take? Brown
pointed out in a statement that the remedy was simple. "To avoid some
exposure to this toxic cocktail, people who buy new cars should make sure that
there is plenty of outside air entering the vehicle while they drive it for at least
6 months." The implications are clear. Drivers should refrain from using their
car air-conditioners and drive with their windows rolled down.