We all know what "new car smell" means.
Most people seem just to enjoy it.
But is it possible that it can make us sick?
At least some of chemicals used in cars can be toxic, and not all of them go away even after many years. But before we can answer the question of whether the new car smell is toxic or not, we must indicate materials which our cars are made of.
Many people believe that this is the smell of leather. But only interiors of luxury cars are made of high quality materials. For example, Bentley's panels are made by hand of fine wood instead of plastic. In addition, the Bentley Motor Company exclusively appreciates Scandinavian carpets because they are grown in purity without adding iron and wire.
Rolls-Royce also smells like genuine leather. Ferrari has pleasant aroma of polished metal and dry leather. In the less expensive cars smell is like new curtains or a linoleum.
Moreover, Audi AG in Ingolstadt (Germany) has a "command-nose", which studies the interiors of cars and material samples. Jaguar has a similar team. Ford prefers to control the smell even at the manufacturing stage. General Motors does not have a standard test for smell.
In fact, there are a lot of different chemicals that make up the interior of the car, and some of them emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the passenger compartment. Exactly these VOCs produce new car smell, whereas some of them do not produce any smell at all. For example, ethylbenzene and formaldehyde can also be found in the composition of most paints and adhesives. They can cause problems such dizziness, headaches, allergies and even cancer when inhaled in large quantities or during a long period of time.
According to the findings from the 2012 of the Ecology Center (the USA), chemicals in new car smell could be harmful if inhaled or swallowed and can lead to such serious consequences for the health as birth defects, learning disability and even cancer. The report concentrated on the presence of bromine, chlorine, lead and other volatile organic chemicals in the car interior.
It is believed the healthiest interiors are to be found in the following cars: the 2012 Honda Civic, 2011 Toyota Prius, the 2011 Honda CR-Z, the 2011 Nissan Cube and the 2012 Acura RDX. Honda won the healthiest interiors overall.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, long-term effects of some of these substances in the body can lead to hormonal imbalance that negatively affects the reproductive system and cause damage to the liver, kidneys and central nervous system.
Most hazard are new cars. Smell in them is also more noticeable.
On the other hand, heating of vehicle when left in the sun even aggravates the situation and speeds up chemical reactions.
But there is a good news - the danger is weakening with the time. According to experts, the threat level is the highest during first six months.
Automakers, in particular Fiat / Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and Honda, assure that they are taking steps to reduce VOCs and other toxic substances in their cars. They say they did it through using other materials, coatings and adhesives in production.
Recommendations for reducing new car smell
In order to reduce the harm from exposure to chemicals it is advisable to follow these recommendations:
- Ventilate a new car interior as often as possible, especially during the first six months of ownership.
- Park the car in the shade and leave windows open, if security conditions permit or at least ventilate the interior before driving, especially on hot days.
- Do not sit in the car when it is parked.
- Use sun shields on a windscreen to minimize heating of the car when standing.
- Clean interior of a new car with microfiber and treat the surface with non-toxic cleaning products.
- Use air fresheners and odor eliminators as on the video below.
Enjoy your new car and try to prevent harm from new car smell!