Indoor Air Quality Hazards of New Cars

Publication Type:
White Paper

Published / Updated:

If you are wondering what makes that new car smell new, it's actually a chemical mixture comprised of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including formaldehyde; polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), used as flame retardants; and phthalic acid esters (phthalates), which are emitted from materials and finishes used to make car interiors. Suddenly, that new car smell is not so appealing.

Exposure to these substances can exacerbate allergy and asthma symptoms and cause eye, nose and throat irritation; cough; headache; general flu-like illnesses; and skin irritation. Some also are known to cause cancer and neurological effects.

This white paper reviews the results of research that demonstrate that levels of VOCs, PBDEs and phthalates in new car interiors can be very high, the efforts by some automakers to lower levels in new cars, and what consumers can do to protect themselves. Topics discussed include:

  • VOCs and Indoor Air: A Bad Blend
  • VOC, PBDE and Phthalate Levels in New Cars Are Extremely High
  • Auto Makers that Lead the Way to Reducing Indoor Air Toxins in New Car Interiors
  • Tips for Consumers

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