Getting in a new car couldn’t be more pleasant. Besides the satisfaction of being behind the wheel of a vehicle that has never been used, the smell that emanates from it is just as appreciable. Nevertheless, a recent study comes to play the killjoy. According to a team of American researchers, the air circulating inside new cars is indeed bad for our health. How is it possible ?
As harmful as exhaust gases
People who have been lucky enough to buy a new car know this well: the smell of the first uses is very nice. And yet that same smell would be far from ideal for human health. A study to appear in volume 149 of the journal International environment (April 2021) compares the harmfulness of the interior air of new cars to that of the gases emitted by the exhaust pipes.
Researchers from the University of California at Riverside (United States) recall that across the Atlantic, citizens spend an average of one hour per day on the road to get to work. Now, people driving a car more than twenty minutes a day would play with their health. In addition to the time spent in vehicles, scientists took into account previous studies regarding the level of chemicals in the interiors of new cars.
Two particularly harmful substances
The fact that most people find the interior air of a new car pleasant is not the result of chance. The researchers behind this study evoke an olfactory bouquet composed in particular of benzene (C₆H₆) and formaldehyde (CH2THE). Not long ago, we briefly mentioned benzene, which has a sweet, sweet smell. This is particularly found near gasoline pumps. It is also one of the components of cigarettes, just like formaldehyde. However, these very volatile chemical compounds come from plastics, adhesives, paints and other textiles in vehicles. Present in the air, they therefore impact the driver and passengers. Exposing yourself to your substances over time can cause nausea, vomiting, rashes and in the worst case, cancer. Unfortunately, most drivers spend well over twenty minutes a day in the passenger compartment of their car.
Researchers have suggested some ways to preserve vehicle occupants. This could for example be opening windows as much as possible. Using a motorcycle or other two-wheeler also helps prevent exposure to these substances. In addition, even if the smell of new disappears over time, volatile compounds would continue to spread. Scientists therefore recommend the use of less dangerous alternative materials in order to prevent risks. Will automakers hear this message? The future will tell.