HomeScience & TechStudy Finds Cancer Causing Chemicals in Car Cabin Air

Study Finds Cancer Causing Chemicals in Car Cabin Air

A concerning new study has revealed that individuals are inhaling cancer causing chemicals while inside their cars. Published in Environmental Science & Technology, the research analyzed the cabin air of 101 electric, gas, and hybrid cars manufactured between 2015 and 2022, uncovering alarming levels of toxic flame retardants.

The study found that a staggering 99% of cars contained a flame retardant known as TCIPP, currently under investigation by the US National Toxicology Program as a potential carcinogen. Additionally, most vehicles also harbored two other carcinogenic flame retardants, TDCIPP and TCEP, linked to neurological and reproductive harm.

Lead researcher Rebecca Hoehn, a toxicology scientist at Duke University, emphasized the gravity of the findings, particularly concerning the health implications for drivers with longer commutes and child passengers. With the average driver spending approximately an hour in the car each day, exposure to these chemicals poses a significant public health risk.

Moreover, the study revealed that warmer weather exacerbates the issue, as heat increases the release of chemicals from car materials. The primary source of these cancer-causing compounds in cabin air was identified as seat foam, with manufacturers adding the chemicals to meet outdated flammability standards lacking proven fire-safety benefits.

Patrick Morrison, director of health, safety, and medicine for the International Association of Fire Fighters, underscored concerns regarding flame retardants’ contribution to high cancer rates among firefighters. He urged the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to update flammability standards to eliminate the use of these harmful chemicals in vehicles.

Researchers stressed that toxic flame retardants offer no real benefit inside vehicles and advocated for reducing their use. Lydia Jahl, a senior scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute, suggested practical measures such as opening car windows and parking in shaded areas to mitigate exposure. However, she emphasized the urgent need to minimize the addition of flame retardants in car manufacturing to safeguard public health.

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