To view our simple solutions, choose an option below:

Log In


New Car Smell

PROBLEM: VOCs in Your Car

Though many people love that new car smell, the scent is actually from chemicals called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. You may even see them as a film accumulating on the interior windshield and windows of your new car.1 The glues, paints, and plastics used in the interior of your car off-gas as fumes that can cause headaches, nausea, sore throats, and dizziness. The Ecology Center links the kind of chemicals in your car’s interior with “birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals amongst other serious health problems.”2 The Environmental Protection Agency states that VOCs can cause liver, kidney, and central nervous system damage, and some VOCs are suspected or known human carcinogens.3 If you think the amount of chemicals is too small to make an impact, keep in mind that, on average, there are 250 pounds of plastic in new cars, and the off-gassing is strong enough for you to be able to detect it by scent.4

Driving also puts you in close contact with phthalates (plastic softeners) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs). The Environmental Protection Agency expresses concern about phthalates because of their toxicity and pervasiveness,5 and these chemicals have been shown to lead to liver and kidney damage in animal tests.6 PBDEs have been shown to accumulate in living organisms and have been found in human breast milk.7