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Toxic at Any Speed: Indoor Air Pollution Inside Your Car
Heat and Light Trigger Toxic Indoor Air Pollution Inside Automobiles
Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that the materials used in car interiors can be hazardous to our health?
-- Chris Smith, Bethesda, MD
“Indoor air pollution” in homes and offices has been studied extensively in recent years--with sometimes alarming conclusions that have led the building industry to rethink many aspects of design and choice of materials. But the health hazards lurking inside car interiors, where most Americans spend 90 minutes on average each day, have largely escaped scrutiny.
Heat and Ultraviolet Light Trigger Pollution Inside
Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (or PBDEs, often used as fire retardants) and phthalates (chemicals used to soften plastics) are the primary culprits. Part of the seat cushions, armrests, floor coverings and plastic parts in most car interiors, these chemicals are easily inhaled or ingested through contact with dust by drivers and passengers. The risks are greatest in summer, when car interiors can get as hot as 192º F.
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