Could That New Car Smell Be Toxic?

To many people, new car smell is one of the simple pleasures in life. Getting into a fresh-off-the-line vehicle and smelling the odors of a brand new car may be enjoyable, but recent studies have shown that it’s far from worth it. Unfortunately, the odor we all know as new car smell is the result of potentially toxic vapors. Here’s what you need to know about the dark side of new car smell and what you can do about it.


  What Exactly Is New Car Smell?


To understand how the new car smell can have a negative impact on your health, we first need to examine what it really is. To manufacture your car’s interior parts, automakers have to use a wide variety of different chemicals, many of which remain in the finished parts. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with treatment chemicals locked in manufactured parts, these chemicals end up becoming airborne through a process known as outgassing. In outgassing, the parts inside your car slowly release the chemicals stored within them. This process can be accelerated by heat, which is why new car smell is often most intense on hot summer days.


Even under other circumstances, outgassing wouldn’t be a huge problem. Because of how confined the space within a car is, however, VOCs produced by outgassing are allowed to build up in relatively high concentrations.


How Toxic Does New Car Smell Have the Potential to Be?


This is still something of a disputed question among experts. On one hand, the chemicals produced by offgassing in cars include several known toxins, such as BFRs, chlorine and even lead. While there’s no doubt that these chemicals can be harmful, there’s still some dispute as to whether the concentrations and exposure times that result from normal driving are enough to cause serious health complications.


One class of drivers who may want some added protection, though, are those who suffer from asthma or other respiratory conditions. While a healthy driver may not see any direct adverse effects from inhaling fumes outgassed by the interior of a car, the heightened sensitivity of people with existing respiratory conditions could take a relatively lower risk and turn it into a more severe one.


  What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?


If you’re concerned about the effects of toxic outgassing in your car, there are a couple of things you can do about it. The first is simply to start your car and roll down your windows for a few minutes before you start driving. This will allow some of the VOCs that have built up in your car to escape, particularly on hot days. Keeping your windows down or at least cracked can also help you disperse gases as you drive.


For even better protection, though, you can put a small air purifier in your car to remove gases and odors. For this application, we recommend the Amaircare Roomaid VOC, which will offer compact and portable protection from VOCs. For more information about the Roomaid’s capacities as a car air purifier, check out our other blog post on this air purifier!


Whether you choose to roll down your windows or use an air purifier for added protection, keep in mind that no solution will be immediate. You’ll need to wait a few minutes for the levels of VOCs in your car start to go down in either event.


Have questions about the Amaircare Roomaid VOC or any of our other air purifiers? We’re here to help! Feel free to contact us with your questions for answers and personalized product recommendations.