The Consumer Guide to Toxic Chemicals in Cars

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TreeHugger knows that air quality is worse inside cars than outside of them. That "new car smell" is the result of the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests, and seats (among other parts) off-gassing nasty things like chlorine, bromine, lead, mercury and other chemicals and toxins that are not good for breathing and not good for human health. A new organization, (a project of the Ecology Center), has launched as a consumer guide to healthier car interiors.

They tested over 200 of the most popular 2006-2007 model year cars, and, using a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device, determined which are the most and least toxic. The Chevy Cobalt, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Honda Odyssey were among the best (least toxic) picks, while the Nissan Versa, Chevy Aveo and the Scion xB 5dr were among the worst.

Read a report from Berkely Wellness, or search by model to see where your ride places. If toxic chemicals in your cars' interior is a concern, the HealthyCar folks have some tips: since UV rays and heat accelerate the breakdown of toxic chemicals, they recommend using solar reflectors and parking in the shade, when possible; ventilating your car by opening the doors & windows before entering will also help. The best tip, though, is to just spend less time in your car, walking, biking, scooting or otherwise getting where you need to go without sitting down in a toxic off-gas incubator first.