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Noxious Niffs Of New Cars

Noxious Niffs Of New Cars

By Helen Potter

Few odours are more pleasing than that 'new car smell'. An elusive aroma so sought after that it has been bottled and is now available for a very reasonable $13.99.

And now for the bad news. Apparently those lungfuls of fragrance you've been indulging in are poisonous.

The Ecology Center, an environmental group in Berkeley, California, have said that fumes from toxic chemicals such as bromine, chlorine and lead can be given off in cars' interiors for up to three years.

The new car smell is due to a complex mix of alkanes and substituted benzenes with some ketones and aldehydes thrown in for good measure. These come from the cocktail of sealants and glues used to fix almost every interior surface of a car in place.

However, apparently it is standard procedure for car manufacturers to thoughtfully keep the level of chemicals low enough to prevent the windows from repeatedly fogging.

As the problem of fumes is worst on hot days, Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center has the following advice:

"Don't park in the sun, and if you do, use a solar screen along the windshield to reduce heat getting into the cabin. And before driving on a warm day, first open the windows and doors to ventilate the car for 10 minutes. Also, clean the cabin frequently by vacuuming and washing the windows because the greasy film on the inside windows is residue from the chemicals."

If all that's just too depressing after you've shelled out on your new motor then read this article since these guys have come to exactly the opposite conclusion. Ah the wonders of science!

Helen's page
is full of great stuff. And you might also like these:

- News - Build your own eco-car
- News - The sweet smell of small change
- Strange - The birds that smell like oranges
Image: Nico van Diem/Joe Cool

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21 Jan 2010
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