Finally, you have officially went out and got yourself a well-deserved new car after years and years of driving the same beaten down car. As you drive the car out of the dealership you are struck with a heavy, pungent odor that has your head spinning and your body feeling fatigued. Although each person reacts differently to the ‘new car smell’ that is present within your newly purchased car. The favored odor is something that many people look forward to when they get a new car and some even purchase this smell to spread it throughout your older car to get that welcomed scent. However, in other people, the smell alone will trigger an amalgam of health issues that will leave you grabbing for the handle for a speedy exit of the vehicle.

The smell of new car can be a mix of the new leather seats, the plastic, and other parts of the vehicle that emit that new odor into the air. Unfortunately, though the smell that we associate with new is actually a creation of chemical compounds combined to produce this ‘new’ odor into the car. The smell from your new car will leave you inhaling toxic chemicals that can be harmful to your health.

In this article we will discuss what is really behind the toxic new car smell, what chemicals are used to compose this odor, and how you can protect your car and your health from this potentially hazardous ‘new smell’.

What is the New Car Smell

What Is The New Car SmellThe composition of new car smell can be an intoxicating aroma of hazardous chemicals – and that’s not what most people expect to hear when describing the aromatic smell of new car. According to Toyota’s color and trim manager Janis Ambrose Shard, the smell of new car smell is mostly that of organic compounds in the vehicle that are off gassing into the enclosed space. This off-gassing of chemicals is from any vinyl or plastic in the vehicle – this includes foam lamination on the seat surface, the plastic dashboard, and the door paneling. These are the components of the car that emit that ‘new car smell’ into the vehicle.

The VOC chemicals that are released and off gassed in the car can be rather dangerous to human health as these chemicals are known to have significant effects on human health that will adversely impact individuals exposed to the tainted air.

What Makes the New Car Smell?

The average American was estimated to spend close to 1.5 hours a day in their car, and if you are in a new car that is off-gassing than you are breathing in and exposed to an amalgam during this time. Chemicals that are off gassed and released into the air of your vehicle are chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can be found in adhesives, plastics, and other material used in the construction of a vehicle. The VOCs that are used in these materials will escape and become released into the air as it regulates to the warmer climates that trigger the emission of these chemicals into the air – this especially happens when cars sit on a lot in the sun for a long period of time. When these chemicals become released into the air it will create that odor that we associate with ‘new car smell’.

It has been found that there are hundreds of different toxic chemicals that will off-gas inside a car’s interior that can be hazardous to human health. The main components in the car that you should be most concerned about during the off-gassing process includes the following:

  • Flame retardants are used in the vehicle and these retardants contain both bromine and antimony.
  • Leather and fabric seats are one of the biggest culprits of VOCs in a new car because these items are coated with chromium.
  • Adhesives and sealants contain a mix of VOCs and these glues are used extensively during the manufacturing and installation of car components.
  • Wood accents on vehicles use pressed woods and sealants that use formaldehyde and other different chemicals in its construction.

Toxic New Car Smell: What Does it Smell Like

Toxic New Car SmellWhen we get into a new car, we are instantly hit with the strong smell of new car that we associate with fresh, new odor. The smell is untainted by other outside smells from other people or things, giving the car a fresh and clean slate for you to mark as your own. Although many people welcome this new smell inside their vehicle, it can actually present many hazards to this new environment.

The scent that is forcefully behind the new car smell is a combination of chemicals during their off-gassing process from the different areas and components of the car’s interior. When you get into the new car and take a deep breath, that air you are breathing in is full of chemicals – potentially toxic chemicals, that are produced from the car and that were used in the manufacturing process of the vehicle.

New cars are not the only items that we purchase that come with this trademark smell, other items like mattresses, paint, and flooring will also produce this odor into the environment in which it is placed into. However, the risk of new car smell is at a higher level since it is a very small enclosed space that is swirling with a toxic level of chemicals in the air.

How Long Does the Smell Last in a New Vehicle?

Love it or hate it, new car smell can be a lingering present odor in your car for some time after your purchase of the vehicle. Many people will try to preserve this new car smell inside of their new car, even going as far as to buying air freshening devices that promise this new car smell to continue its odorous presence in the car. While others will do anything in their power to try to push this smell out of their car by airing out the vehicle, cleaning it, and even using different promised deodorizing products that will knock the odor out the door.

Studies that have been conducted to learn the life period of the new car smell in new vehicles was shown that the smell can last for quite some time depending on a number of factors such as the use of the vehicle, the addition of other fragrances in the car, and the environment conditions placed on the vehicle (i.e. heat, air flow, etc.). It was concluded though, that the chemical VOCs that are emitted in a vehicle to produce the new car smell will diminish over time at a rate that is close to 20 percent each week of owning and using the vehicle.

Can New Car Smell Make You Sick – What are the Symptoms?

Can New Car Smell Make You SickAccording to a study conducted by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, it was found that by sitting in a new car for a period of time those individuals in the car can be exposed to toxic emissions that are well above safe levels. The organic compounds present in this enclosed space can include dangerous compounds such as fluorine, benzene, sulfur, and formaldehyde that can have a drastic impact on the health of those exposed to these potentially toxic chemicals.

The overall health effects that are related to VOCs and new car smell can vary in severity from acute to severe. Generally, though, in sensitive individuals it is true that your new car smell can be making you sick. The factors that will impact the severity of health symptoms can include the concentration of chemicals present in the car, the length of time you are exposed to this tainted air filled with chemical VOCs, and the health background or age of those exposed to the chemicals.

The symptoms that are most commonly associate with new car smell illness include the following:

  • Headaches
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sinus pressure
  • Aggravated asthma symptoms
  • Allergic skin reaction
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Drowsiness
  • Throat and nose irritation

How to Get Rid of New Car Smell

The levels of chemicals present in your new car can reach hazardous levels, that are probably significantly affecting the quality of the air in the environment. If you start to experience health symptoms from exposure to this environment, you will want to turn to mitigation methods to flush out and remove the chemicals from this environment, and preferably quickly!

The quick and easy methods that you can apply in your vehicle will include the following:

  • Open car windows and sunroofs to increase the ventilation in the car’s cabin. This will help to flush out the VOCs in the air of the vehicle.
  • Upgrade your air filter inside your car’s ac unit. Using a HEPA filter will offer you protection against pollutants floating inside your car. Be sure to regularly change this filter out to maximize the removal of pollutants.
  • Add an odor neutralizing filter pad to place into the air filter and under the seats to neutralize the odorous VOCs from the air.

Overall, if you are fearing the potential chemicals that you could be exposed to in a new car, it may be necessary to scout for a car manufacturer that has created vehicles with interior quality at the top of concern – that are free of toxic chemicals typically found in new cars like PVC or brominated flame retardants.


EnviroKlenz® Medical Disclaimer:

“Any information that is provided on this website is not for the use by any commercial or personal entity without expressed written consent of the blog author. The material and statements illustrated within this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases or medical conditions. Nor does the author in any way guarantee or validate the validity, totality, or efficacy of any claims and will therefore not be held responsible for the content of any claims. Always consult your medical physician for any specific medical advice or recommendations.”

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