Your car may be filled with cancer-causing fumes, study warns

The interior of all vehicles produced after 2015 contain dangerous chemicals, researchers say - Ford

Researchers are critical of a flame retardant required by the government

There may be cancer-causing chemicals in your car, but don’t blame the carmaker – the government requires them.

 Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard FMVSS 302 requires the use of chemical flame retardants in several areas of the vehicle’s interior, including the seats. A new study conducted by researchers at Duke University and the Green Science Policy Institute found that the air inside the cabins of some model year 2015 or newer cars is polluted with flame retardants.

The study also found that the interior pollution is worse in the summer and in warm-weather climates. It was published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

“U.S. participants owning a vehicle of model year 2015 or newer hung a silicone passive sampler on their rearview mirror for seven days,” the researchers wrote. “Fifty-one of 101 participants collected a foam sample from a vehicle seat. Organophosphate esters (OPEs) were the most frequently detected FR class in the passive samplers.”

The scientists found that air flame retardant levels were two to five times higher in vehicle cabins in the summer compared to winter. 

The chemicals are in cars to slow the progress of any fire that might break out in a crash, but researchers said there is no evidence that this saves lives. On the other hand, they expressed the concern that inhaling the chemicals is not healthy and point to previous studies that linked the chemicals to cancer.

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