Leftist Boddhisatva

Boddhisatvas love bananas.

Monday, October 03, 2005

New-Car Smell Emerges As Auto Safety Issue


News Item:
Anyone who's pulled away from the dealer's lot in a shiny, new sedan knows the seductive scent of fresh plastic, paint and upholstery that evokes a rush of pride and consumer satisfaction.

But that unmistakable new-car smell may soon be heading the way of the rumble seat: recent research linking it to a toxic cocktail of harmful chemicals is spurring efforts by Japanese automakers to tone down the fumes.

The new-car smell emanates largely from chemicals known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that leach from glues, paints, vinyls and plastics in the passenger compartment. The fumes can trigger headaches, sore throats, nausea and drowsiness. Prolonged exposure to some of the chemicals can lead to cancer, though there's no evidence linking that to concentrations in cars.

Critics liken the problem to so-called sick-building syndrome, which traces some illnesses to similar agents seeping from the walls, carpets and fixtures of new buildings.

Just sitting in a new car can subject riders to toxic emissions several times the limits deemed safe for homes or offices by some health authorities, though the problem tends to dissipate after about six months, according to a 2001 study by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
VOCs are used as inhalants by teenagers (and others) looking for a cheap high. It all makes sense in a big-picture sort of way, doesn't it?

Maybe we can persuade car companies to replace the new car smell with the smell of bananas.

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