Your car emits carcinogenic substances that you are breathing

Moving by car is something very common for people, in fact, more than 70% of households in Chile have one, Whether for comfort, safety or speed, the car is usually the favorite means of transportation.

However, a recent study found that drivers are breathing a chemical substance present inside car cabins which is potentially harmful to health. Those most likely to be exposed are travelers, full-time vehicle drivers, and children.

A team of researchers from the Green Science Policy Institute reported that 99% of cars manufactured between 2015 and 2022 contained a flame retardant chemical. related to reproductive disorders and neurological problemswhich can affect children’s IQ levels and cause deadly cancers.

Flame retardants are chemicals designed to reduce the flammability of materials and slow the spread of fire. Car manufacturers add these chemicals to seat foam and other materials to comply with a federal flammability standard in the US that, according to the statement, It is obsolete and does not provide any proven fire safety benefits.

Epidemiological studies have shown that the average American child has lost three to five IQ points from exposure to a flame retardant used in automobiles and furniture. Additionally, a recent research article estimated that those with higher levels of this flame retardant in their blood had approximately four times the risk of dying from cancer compared to people with the lowest levels.

“Our research found that interior materials release harmful chemicals into the cabin air of our cars,” said lead author Rebecca Hoehn, a scientist at Duke University in a statement.

The study published in Environmental Science & Technology reviewed 101 2015 or later model cars from across the US. where 99% contained tris(1-chloro-isopropyl) phosphate (TCIPP), a flame retardant that is being investigated by the US National Toxicology Program as a potential carcinogen. Additionally, most cars had additional organophosphate ester flame retardants, two of these California Proposition 65 carcinogens.

“Taking into account that The average driver spends about an hour in the car every day, this is a major public health problem. “It is particularly concerning for drivers with longer trips, as well as child passengers, who breathe more air pound for pound than adults,” Duke said.

The researchers also analyzed seat foam samples from 51 of the study cars. Vehicles that contained the suspected carcinogen TCIPP in their foam tended to have higher concentrations of TCIPP in the air, which confirmed that foam is a source of this flame retardant in cabin air.

Another important factor was temperature; warm weather was linked to higher concentrations of flame retardants because higher temperatures increase off-gassing from interior components, such as seat foam. The interior of vehicles can reach up to 65 degrees Celsius.

Adding flame retardants to vehicles It was a standard that was first introduced in 1970 and remains unchanged. Their use is extremely outdated, in fact, “filling products with these harmful chemicals does little to prevent fires in most uses and instead makes fires smokier and more toxic for victims, and especially for first responders.” “Patrick Morrison, who oversees the Health and Safety of 350,000 American and Canadian firefighters at the International Association of Firefighters, said in the statement.

To reduce the risk of exposure to retardants, drivers They can open the windows to ventilate, turn off the air conditioning and park in the shade. “But what is really needed is to reduce the amount of flame retardants added to cars in the first place. Commuting should not carry a cancer risk, and children should not breathe chemicals that can damage their brains on the way to school.”concluded co-author Lydia Jahl, senior scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute.

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