By SafBaby Founders Sandra Blum and Samantha Fox Olson

There is just something so life-affirming in the spring time air and I love it!  The days are warmer and the sun has been blazing here where I live.  It is so splendid.

Now that the days are warmer however, when we go to get loaded up in our cars the increase of the heat is obvious.  Which gets me wondering, “Is there any scientific research or proof that the “new car smell” (that smell of hot plastic when you get into a car that has been sitting in the sun) is toxic or unsafe for our children?”

My interest about this came after receiving an email from a friend that warned:

The New Car Smell In Vehicles Is Toxic

Please do NOT turn on the A/C as soon as you enter the car.  Open the windows after you enter your car and then turn ON the AC after a couple of minutes.

Here’s why: According to research, the car dashboard, seats, and air freshener emit Benzene, a cancer-causing toxin.
In addition to causing cancer, Benzene poisons your bones, causes anemia and reduces white blood cells.  Prolonged exposure will cause Leukemia, increasing the risk of cancer.  Can also cause miscarriage.

Acceptable Benzene level indoors is 50mg per sq.ft.
A car parked indoors with windows closed will contain 400-800 mg of  Benzene.
If parked outdoors under the sun at a temperature above 60 degrees F, the Benzene level goes up  to 2000-4000 mg, 40 times the acceptable level.
People  who get into the car, keeping windows closed will inevitably  inhale, in quick succession, excessive amounts of the  toxin.

Benzene is a toxin that affects your kidney and liver. What’s worse, it is extremely difficult for your body to expel this toxic stuff.  So friends, please open the windows and door of your car – give time for interior to air out -dispel the deadly stuff – before you enter.

Ventilating Your Vehicle Is A Good Idea

Ecology Center answered my question regarding toxins in cars that stemmed from the above email.  I sent them my question and the above email info and this was their reply:

Yes we do recommend ventilating the vehicle prior to entering it.

The levels of many of these chemicals can be 5-10 higher in vehicles then in other environments (homes or offices). Most of these chemicals are the same ones we are exposed to in our homes and offices, so the exposure concern is a cumulative one.  A study I often use which cites over 150 chemicals commonly found in vehicles.  Some studies have show cars may be responsible for up to 1/3 of over all exposures to some chemicals, but this will really vary by the chemicals.  Data shows we spend around 90 minutes per day in vehicles.

We recommend people take reasonable, common sense steps to reduce all exposures.

While benzene can be in synthetic materials, the most likely source in my opinion is the engine (from benzene in gas), combustion, fuel leaks, and the evaporation of fuel.  I have not seen any specific data connecting this the AC systems though.  It possible some of the benzene containing lubricants may be in the compressor motors of AC units.

Anyway ventilating the vehicle is a good idea regardless.


Reducing Toxins From Inside Your Car

We love when the steps to take to reduce toxins entering our baby’s bodies, and ours, is this simple.  Just air it out!  Spring has sprung, go have fun!