New car smell danger

Wednesday, September 28th 2005, 10:04 am
By: News On 6

There's nothing better than that new car smell, but it might also be one of the worst things for you, according to some recent studies. You probably didn't know it, but new car smell is actually the result of sometimes toxic chemicals.

News on 6 reporter Steve Berg did some sniffing around. New car smell, bad for you? Say it isn’t so, says car buyer Doug Eggerman. "Well of course that's one of the reasons you buy a new car is because you like that smell and it's always, it always nice."

All that nice, new carpet and plastic and paint contains what scientists call volatile organic compounds, or VOC's. And surprisingly to some, there are reports that it can cause headaches, sore throats, and nausea. “Yes, it does surprise me. I'm not totally convinced that's true yet, but I think it's something they need to study."

Actually, The Associated Press says they "have" studied it in Australia, and in Japan, where the government says the concentration of VOC's in cars is much higher than what they allow in buildings. As you might expect, the AP reports that most Japanese carmakers like Toyota and Nissan and Honda are at the forefront of a new effort to cut down on the amount of the toxic chemicals. That doesn't surprise Doug, who's bought Toyota's for years. "They know their business and they're doing a good job at it, so it doesn't surprise me at all."

The Australian study says the chemicals apparently dissipate after about 6 months. So Doug can breathe easy. He says he buys used cars. The AP reports that carmakers everywhere have been trying to cut down on VOC's for years, but Japan claims to be the first to try to adopt a government standard on the issue.

The AP says the United States doesn't regulate VOC's outside of industrial settings.