The smell of a brand new car is pervasive just as you enter the vehicle or even open its door. We often take a whiff or two to get the feel and the satisfaction of being inside a new car. But this smell is not as harmless as we may think it to be, as per a study.
The smell that comes upon entering a new car is essentially a mix of certain chemicals from the fabrics, foams and adhesives used in the car. In fact, the smell is so liked by people that there even are air fresheners available to add the smell back to one's car after it goes away.
A study conducted by Aalekhya Reddam and David C. Volz from the University of California Riverside says that the new-car-smell is actually the result of something called off-gassing. The odour is made of chemicals used in pieces of car's interiors and over time, it enters the air via off-gassing.
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The study, that was conducted to find that at what point would a person’s exposure to these chemicals get beyond safe levels, has revealed that just beyond 20 minutes of exposure would be harmful - mainly due to benzene and formaldehyde chemicals. The finding was based on time spent on trips by commuters as well as the levels of certain chemicals detected in cars in previous studies. These chemicals are on California’s Proposition 65 list of recognized carcinogens and can thus increase the risk of cancer.
Though the health risk depends on the dosage and frequency of the inhalation of these carcinogen chemicals, the study suggests that the industry should still work towards mitigating their effects. It also suggests substituting the use of these chemicals with something that is less harmful to people. This would also mean that one could enjoy the new-car-smell guilt-free.