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Author's Note: Is "new car smell" toxic?

If I ever put together a list of my five favorite odors nobody would ever name a perfume after, I think new car smell would easily make the top five, right after freshly ground coffee beans and way ahead of wet paint. So it's rather distressing to discover that it might be hazardous to my health. Given that researchers disagree on just how much of a danger the volatile chemicals in an automobile interior represent, you might not want to start wearing that gas mask quite yet. But I'll confess that it made me feel a lot better to see that my own car, a 2011 Toyota Prius, was determined to have the second healthiest interior by the Ecology Center. Car buyers shopping for a healthy car would do well to look at the health rankings in their report.

Sources

  • Choi, Charles Q. "That New-Car Smell? Not Toxic, Study Finds." Live Science. (Dec. 17, 2012) http://www.livescience.com/7273-car-smell-toxic-stu
  • Clover, Charles. "Enjoying the smell of a new car 'is like glue-sniffing'." The Telegraph. (Dec. 17, 2012) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/1418964/Enjoying-the-smell-of-a-new-car-is-like-glue-sniffing.html
  • Daley, Sherri. "Secrets of That New-Car Smell." Car & Driver. (Dec. 17, 2012) http://www.caranddriver.com/features/secrets-of-that-new-car-smell-experiments-in-scent-page-2
  • The Ecology Center. "Model Year 2011/2012 Guide to New Vehicles." (Dec. 17, 2012) http://www.healthystuff.org/documents/2012_Cars.pdf
  • Grabbs, J., Corsi, R., and Torres, V. "Volatile Organic Compounds in New Automobiles: Screening Assessment." J. Environ. Eng. (Dec. 17, 2012) http://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/%28ASCE%290733-9372%282000%29126%3A10%28974%29
  • HealthyStuff.org. "New Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Cars Helps Consumers Avoid 'New Car Smell' As Major Source of Indoor Air Pollution." (Dec. 17, 2012) http://www.healthystuff.org/get-stuff.php?group-report=Cars
  • Jaslow, Ryan. "New car smell is toxic, study says: Which cars are worst?" CBS News. (Dec. 17, 2012) http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504763_162-57378591-10391704/new-car-smell-is-toxic-study-says-which-cars-are-worst/
  • Richard, Michael Graham. "Beware: That New Car Smell is Toxic!" Treehugger. (Dec. 17, 2012) http://www.treehugger.com/organic-beauty/beware-that-new-car-smell-is-toxic.html
  • Warner, Jennifer. "Is That 'New Car Smell' Toxic?" WebMD. (Dec. 17, 2012) http://men.webmd.com/news/20120215/is-that-new-car-smell-toxic