Drive Safely: Study Reveals Cancer-Causing Chemicals Lurking in Car Interiors

Reported by Nadar Nihal Kaur


A groundbreaking study has shed light on a concerning issue – people are unknowingly inhaling cancer-causing chemicals while in their cars. The research, recently published in Environmental Science & Technology, delved into the cabin air of various vehicles from 2015 to 2022, including electric, gas, and hybrid cars.

Led by Rebecca Hoehn, a toxicology scientist at Duke University, the study found a staggering 99% of cars tested contained a flame retardant known as TCIPP, currently under scrutiny by the US National Toxicology Program as a potential carcinogen. Additionally, most cars harbored two more carcinogenic flame retardants: TDCIPP and TCEP. These chemicals not only pose a cancer risk but are also linked to neurological and reproductive harm.

The impact is profound, especially considering the average person spends about an hour daily in their vehicle. For individuals with longer commutes and children, who breathe more air pound for pound than adults, the risk is even greater.

The study pinpointed seat foam as the primary source of these cancer-causing compounds, as car manufacturers incorporate them to meet outdated flammability standards, despite questionable fire-safety benefits. Patrick Morrison, from the International Association of Fire Fighters, emphasized the adverse effects on first responders, urging the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to revise its flammability standards to eliminate the need for flame retardant chemicals.

In light of these findings, the researchers underscored the urgent need to reduce the use of toxic flame retardants in vehicle materials. Lydia Jahl, a senior scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute, suggested practical measures such as opening windows and parking in shaded areas or garages to minimize exposure. However, the ultimate solution lies in reducing the incorporation of these harmful chemicals altogether.

The study’s implications are clear: commuting shouldn’t carry a cancer risk, and children shouldn’t be exposed to brain-harming chemicals on their way to school. By raising awareness and advocating for safer alternatives, we can drive towards a healthier and safer future on the road.

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