Love That New-Car Smell? Your Body Doesn't

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An environmental group has released the findings of its annual study on automotive toxic materials, and the news isn't good for 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport owners.

Mitsubishi's compact SUV was rated the worst for toxic materials in the cabin, according to tests by the Ecology Center, a non-profit group based in Ann Arbor, Mich. The center found higher levels of contaminants such as bromine, chromium and lead in the Outlander Sport's seats, plastic parts and center console. Other offenders on the list include the 2011 Chrysler 200 and the 2011 Kia Soul.

The Ecology Center tested more than 200 model-year 2011 and 2012 vehicles and found that chemicals emitted from things like the steering wheel, dashboard and seats contribute to the "new-car smell," but long-term exposure to these chemicals has been linked to major health problems such as allergies, birth defects and cancer. The average American spends more than one-and-a-half hours in a car every day, the group says. 

The Outlander Sport isn't alone. Most automakers use toxins like these because of their flame-retardant qualities, and the goal of the Ecology Center's research is to persuade automakers to explore safer materials.

"Since these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face. Our testing is intended to expose those dangers and encourage manufacturers to use safer alternatives," Jeff Gearhart, the group's research director, said in a statement.

Several automakers have already switched to safer materials, including Honda. The 2012 Honda Civic was rated the least toxic in the study. Overall in the industry, the center found that 17% of the interiors of new vehicles do not contain polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, and 60% are produced without brominated flame retardants, or BFRs.

Affiliate site HealthyStuff.org breaks down the report's findings here.

Honda Rated as Top Manufacturer, Thanks to PVC Reduction Efforts (Ecology Center)

Comments 

Nicholas W. Andrews

Bought a new 2011 Prius 2 weeks ago. Every time my wife rides in the car she sneezes until we get to our destination. We bought a large container of Fabreeze which I sprayed liberally in the car. That did not solve the problem. Took the car back for undercoating and the shop manager said that was just how a Prius smells.Next stop, back to the dealer.

anti-spray

What did you think the Fabreeze would do? That stuff is nasty, too.

More or less, it's one of the things that you should look into when buying a car. It's a long-term investment, so you need to know the inner workings of the vehicle you might own for the sake of your health (and your wallet).

Cars exterior designs and innovative features can be very tempting, yet there is still more vital factor to be considered. Example, if materials used is good or bad to your health. So, better do thorough research first before buying a car.

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