The Ecology Center’s Clean Car Campaign launched a new website dedicated to helping consumers find the least toxic car interiors and children’s car seats. Using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, Healthycar.org analyzed the components of over 200 vehicles from the 2006 and 2007 model years and over 60 car seat models manufactured in 2006. The researchers tested for 11 elements, including antimony, arsenic, bromine, chlorine, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, and tin. Each product tested received a rating of low, medium, or high concern. You can find out how your car or car seat measures up at the website: www.healthycar.org.
Along with the overall rating, the organization provides measurements for specific chemicals such as bromine, chlorine, and lead. The occurrence of bromine in test results is an indicator of polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in the vehicle or car seat. PBDEs are toxic flame retardants. Chlorine indicates the presence of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which contains phthalates. Phthalates are linked to cancer and reproductive birth defects. Lead is a known neurotoxin.
According to the Ecology Center, the levels of chemicals released inside a vehicle rise as the interior gets hotter. The organization recommends keeping the car cooler by using a sun shield over the windshield when parked and parking in the shade or under cover. Additionally, remember to air out a parked car by opening windows upon reentry.
Fall 2009 update
Healthycar.org has expanded to Healthystuff.org. Find information on
Cars at: www.healthystuff.org/departments/cars and
Car seats at: www.healthystuff.org/departments/childrens-products.
Other products reviewed and rated include toys, pet products, apparel and accessories.
-Melissa Cooper Sargent, Fall 2007
Printable pdf: New Car Smell