Some people find the new car smell to be quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, a new study has turned that bit of joy into bad news. A study at Harvard just found the “new car smell” that everyone knows and some of us love might cause cancer. Don’t worry if you have a “new car smell” air freshener dangling from your rearview mirror. They only looked at actual new cars.
Researchers at Harvard and the Beijing Institute of Technology analyzed the air inside new cars parked outside. They left a brand-new car parked outside for twelve days, then measured the air quality inside. When doing this, they found large amounts of two known carcinogens.
The study found two known cancer-causing carcinogens. There was 35 percent more formaldehyde in the air than what’s considered safe and 61 percent acetaldehyde. Each exceeded the Chinese national safety standards.
They also discovered that spending just an hour and a half in a car every day exposed a person to enough formaldehyde and acetaldehyde to exceed safe limits.
“These observations increase our understanding of in-cabin chemical transport and emission mechanisms,” the researchers wrote in their paper, published in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science.
During warmer weather, levels of the dangerous chemicals also increased, the study found.
We spend a lot of time on the roads and anyone who often leases new cars could potentially have a higher risk. There are some ways to try and reduce the risk of what the study found. This includes keeping your car ventilated, parking in shade to reduce rising temperatures in your car, and keeping your car clean to avoid dust.