Beware of Toxics in Automobiles

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When working on, operating, or maintaining our vehicles it is possible to be exposed to some of the toxic substances that, while necessary to operate our vehicles, can be toxic to our health and well being. Being knowledgeable about the hazards of automobile toxins is the first step to safeguarding ourselves against negative health effects.

That New Car Smell

A recent report “Toxic at Any Speed” produced by The Ecology Center in

Ann Arbor, Michigan has revealed that not only are the interiors of automobiles teeming with toxic PBDEs, even that “new car smell” is an indicator that something is not right. The smell is a result of phthalates, toxic chemicals used to soften PVC plastics. While many people enjoy the smell they may not enjoy the significant health repercussions of breathing the phthalate fumes. In particular, birth defects, impaired learning, early puberty, and premature births were among the serious health problems reported in laboratory animals exposed to phthalates.

Repair and Maintenance: A Costly Reality
For many car owners and hobbyists maintenance and repair is an expected responsibility of owning a vehicle. Unfortunately, those who choose to take matters into their own hands are often exposed to toxic chemicals present in many automotive parts.
Asbestos, a commonly used toxin in automobile parts, can cause a very aggressive and fatal form of lung cancer called mesothelioma. Unless diagnosed early the prognosis is a grim one for individuals with mesothelioma. Asbestos is commonly found in brake pads, brake dust, clutch assemblies, gaskets, valve rings, valve stem packing, and hood liners.

The Truth about Lead
Lead is a compound that often makes headlining news as it appears in children’s toys, playgrounds, and accessories. But the truth is lead is more prevalent than many people, especially when it comes to their vehicles. Lead is often used as an additive in plastic parts and has significant repercussions for children or individuals planning to have children. Exposure to lead can also lead to brain damage, kidney damage, and damage to the nervous system.

Also Featured in Plastic Car Parts
It is an ironic twist that bromine, a chemical responsible for many serious health problems, is often added to make cars safer. Bromine is a commonly used chemical to make plastics more fire resistant and increasing the fire resistance of the overall vehicle. In addition to Bromine, chemicals like chlorine, polyvinyl chloride, acetone, xylene, and ethylbenzene all cause significant health problems and can be found in the plastic interiors of automobiles.

The truth about automobiles is they may present a more significant health hazard than previously understood. Toxic to all passengers, they can be especially harmful to children, pregnant women, or individuals with compromised immune systems.

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