What is it about a new car smell that is so intoxicating? The scent last for years in some vehicles, before being replaced by spilled cool drinks, splashes of coffee and quite literally the hair of the dog. And because it is such an alluring smell, scent-manufacturers have taken it one step further and created car fragrances that smell of new car to keep yours going for years after it has vanished.
But where exactly is the new car smell emanating from? Turns out, the scent is a mixture of chemicals from different car components. It is a mix of petroleum-based solvents found in the vinyl, plastic and leather inside the vehicle. When the car sits in the sun, the chemical smells are activated, creating the new car smell.
Here’s where it gets interesting, some of these smells may be the cause of your headaches or sudden flare up of allergies. In one study, it was discovered that car interiors have a unique cocktail of toxic chemicals, and because these chemicals are not regulated, there is no real way of knowing how dangerous they can be.
The study included vehicles from the 2006 to 2012 model years and measured chemicals like chlorine, lead, and others present in the manufacture of interiors.
The Ecology Center study concluded that: “Chemicals of primary concern include: bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants, or BFRs); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC and plasticizers); lead; and heavy metals. Such chemicals have been linked to a wide range of health problems such as allergies, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer.”
Another study at Munich Technical College conducted a similar study and collected samples of air from new and oldish cars sitting in a hot parking lot. When exposed to humans and rodents, no toxicity was discovered – but allergies were definitely exacerbated.
Do what you must with this tit-bit of information, at least we know where the smell comes from, and that darn allergy too!