The interior of your car is slowly killing you

The interior of your car is slowly killing you
The interior of your car is slowly killing you

Reading time: 2 minutes – Spotted on Fast Company

This is not new: the automobile is the most dangerous means of transport, far ahead of the motorcycle – and a thousand leagues ahead of the train and the plane, considered ultra safe in view of the number of victims. But are traffic accidents just the many trees hiding the forest? According to Fast Company, motorists don’t need a pileup to seriously damage their health.

A study published by the journal Environmental Science & Technologies seriously warns the millions of people who regularly use automobiles: they are very likely gradually becoming poisoned. The culprits are clearly identified: they are flame retardants, these chemicals used to reduce the risk of fire.

Mesmerizing consequences

Obviously very useful, these components would be used in a far too relaxed manner by manufacturers, unaware or little concerned about their potentially deplorable effects on human health. In the context of various studies, flame retardants have in fact been linked to the appearance of cancers, fertility problems, thyroid conditions and alterations of the nervous system.

It is mainly in the seat foam that these dangerous products are found, which gradually evaporate in the passenger compartment and are inhaled or swallowed by the various occupants of the vehicle. “Considering that the average driver spends around an hour a day in their car, this represents a serious public health problem”comments Rebecca Hoehn, doctor who led the investigation. “This is particularly concerning for those making longer journeys and for younger passengers.”

Joint analyzes of the foam in the seats of certain automobiles and air samples taken from inside the cars have revealed the presence of certain carcinogenic elements, the concentration of which tends to increase as the temperature increases. . “Heat facilitates the gassing of flame retardants into the cabin air”summarizes Lydia Jahl, co-author of the study. “This summer, if you get into your car after it has been in the sun with the windows closed, there will be a lot of flame retardants in the air.”

To limit the damage, Lydia Jahl recommends not using the “recirculation” mode of the vehicle air conditioning system, which consists of reusing the air present inside the car in a loop. Opening the windows to ventilate will also do the greatest good, although “Of course, this means that flame retardants will enter the outside air and possibly make their way to waterways and wildlife”. In short, we will above all have to ask manufacturers to find less harmful solutions.

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