The leather seats, the panels, the carpet, the steering wheel … Mmmm, how beautiful a new tank smell! However, many consumers can be disappointed. A team of toxicologists from the University of California, Riverside, questions the risk of indoor odors from compounds.
According to researchers Aalekhya Reddamab and David C. Volz, the vehicle’s interiors contain high concentrations of benzene and formaldehyde, which are two chemicals listed on California Proposition 65 (Prop 65). Remember, this list includes more than 800 products that the state of California recognizes as having carcinogenic or reproductive toxicological effects.
Levels unacceptable by California authorities
Benzene is mainly found in rubbers and dyes, while formaldehyde is used in carpets and paints. The study revealed that these two carcinogens used in the automotive industry reach levels unacceptable by California authorities when people are exposed to them regularly during trips of more than 20 minutes. “These chemicals are very volatile and move easily in the air we breathe,” says environmental toxicologist David Falls.
Researchers estimate that a large portion of the population is at high risk (greater than 1 in 10) of exceeding the cancer risk limits for benzene and formaldehyde during their daily commute, particularly in the areas around San Francisco and Los Angeles. Sectors have been identified by large traffic jams.
The starting point for further studies
Acknowledging that variation in chemical concentrations can vary between countries, the researchers concluded that this study provides a starting point for further risk analyzes.
Source: Inhalation of two Prop 65-listed chemicals within compounds may be associated with increased risk of cancer, Environment International Volume 149, April 2021.