Inside Story on Your Car; the Interior of a Car Is Not the Kind of Place You Would Expect to Be a Health Hazard but New Research Claims It Could be.ES WHEELS

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Byline: RUSSELL HAYES

MANUFACTURERS are being urged to reveal which chemicals are given off by car interiors, following growing evidence that some fumes could be harmful. The call comes from Lex Vehicle Leasing, which manages 93,000 fleet vehicles and is concerned about the effects of interior chemicals on company car drivers.

According to experts, when a car is new or has been standing in the sun, interior trim can give off volatile organic compounds, causing the fogging you sometimes see on the inside of the windscreen. These are known as Total Volatile Organic Compounds (TVOCs) and many of them can trigger allergic reactions.

A recent study by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation suggests that new car chemicals could even cause abnormalities in unborn children and that toxic emissions may be responsible for causing some accidents.

Dr Steve Brown, head of CSIRO's air quality control research, said: "Just as air inside our homes and workplaces is often much more polluted than the air outside, so sitting in a new car can expose you to toxic emissions." For the study, scientists tested emissions from three new cars over two years. They found TVOC concentrations were initially so high in the two Australian-made cars that when human subjects were exposed to a similar smell cocktail at less than half that concentration, it produced drowsiness, headaches and eye irritation within minutes. The third, imported, car had levels four times higher than recommended limits. …

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