The Air Inside Your Car May Contain Harmful Chemicals, New Study Warns

A new study finds the air inside more than 100 cars contained toxic flame retardants used on seat foam and other materials.

The air inside your car may be polluted with harmful flame retardants, according to a new study. These chemicals, including several suspected to cause cancer, are added to seat foam and other materials to meet federal flammability standards. Researchers detected flame retardants in the cabin air of 101 cars from the model year 2015 or newer. Alarmingly, 99% of these cars contained TDCIPP (tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate), which is currently under investigation by the U.S. National Toxicology Program as a potential carcinogen.

The study revealed that most of the vehicles also contained other flame retardants, some of which have been linked to neurological and reproductive issues. The lead author expressed significant concern, highlighting that these chemicals pose a public health hazard. Given that most drivers spend an hour a day in their car, this is particularly concerning for those with longer commutes and for child passengers, who breathe more air pound-for-pound than adults.

The study calls for an updated flammability standard for cars that can be achieved without using flame retardants. The International Association of Firefighters also advocates for this update, noting that flame retardants make fires more toxic for victims and first responders. For now, scientists suggest that you may be able to reduce your exposure by opening car windows and parking in the shade.

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