Is new car smell toxic?

By • Published: May 17th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Whether it’s the mouth-watering scent of freshly baked bread, a delectable cup of joe or the fragrance of a freshly cut Christmas tree, these distinct aromas can tantalize the taste buds and spark fond memories from years past.

Smells play an important role in linking people to things we enjoy and remember the most. But, a distinct smell that most people rate high on their Top 10 scents list could be causing more harm than good.

Researchers say that fresh-off-the-production line new car smell that is so pleasing to the schnozzle can actually be a “unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals.” Yep, according to researchers, that special smell that is linked with one of the biggest purchases a person will make in a lifetime can also lead to long-term health concerns.

Researchers say the new car smell is a product of off-gassing, which basically means the evaporation of volatile chemicals commonly used in the production of steering wheels, dashboards, armrests and seats.

The off-gas comes from chemicals like bromine, polyvinyl chloride, lead and heavy metals and can linger in the confined space of a car’s interior. These chemicals are linked with a spectrum of health problems such as allergies, birth defects and cancer.

Researchers say another compounding problem is how hot it can get inside a car. Extreme air temperatures above 192 degrees and dashboard temperatures over 248 degrees can increase the toxic substances being released from the chemicals found in a car’s interior.

But there is some good news; Car manufactures in recent years are trending toward constructing healthier interiors. So maybe one day, that new car scent that makes your friends green with envy will be the smell of a healthier, green environment.

Until then, you might want to keep your windows cracked in your new car … just to be safe.