Dangerous Substances Found in Automobiles
By Guest Blogger: Brian Turner
All car enthusiasts have a dream car they would love to have in their life. Most car owners know about the dangers found in automotive fluids like antifreeze. You may think that fixing leaks and cleaning up spills is enough to protect your family, but there are toxic substances found all over your vehicle, inside and out. Every vehicle, from one fresh of the lot with that “new car smell” to an old classic, has the potential to cause harm. Some people avoid these toxic substances by riding a bicycle everywhere, but there are less drastic ways to safeguard your health.
New cars have some of the highest indoor air pollution measured inside the cabin. This is largely due to a phenomenon known as “off-gassing.” Auto manufacturers use a variety of synthetic materials in the cabin of a vehicle, including flame-retardant fabrics for the upholstery, softened vinyl for armrests and dashboards, and flame-retardant carpeting. Fresh from the factory, these materials release a variety of toxic gases, including chlorine and that together make up the distinctive smell of a new car. Surprisingly there is very little government regulation regarding these substances, which particularly affect small children and those with chemical sensitivities and are believed to cause cancer and learning disabilities.
The best way to avoid the toxic chemical soup found in a new car is to avoid new vehicles altogether. The materials that make up the interior of a car do most of their off gassing in the first few years after manufacture, which is why that new car smell eventually fades. As vehicles age, the heat and radiation from the sun can begin to break down the interior and cause the release of more chemicals, but the levels are not nearly as high as those in a car fresh off the dealer’s lot. You may think that the older the vehicle, the safer and less toxic it becomes. However, older cars can hold dangers of their own.
The interior of a classic car can be relatively safe, many are made primarily of metal and have carpeting and upholstery made from natural fibers with little or no chemical treatment. However, should be careful of an older vehicle is more likely to hide unexpected dangers under the hood. Lead and asbestos are the most common toxic substances used in the manufacture of older cars. Many classic car enthusiasts know that , linings, , etc. were once made from asbestos and gasoline used the contain lead, but they aren’t prepared for the radioactive radium that may have been used on the dashboard clock and dials. Cancer, heavy metal poisoning, and mesothelioma can result from exposure to these substances, so it pays to be careful when working on an older vehicle.