by Brian Turner
Interior airbags, antilock disc brakes, stability and traction controls, and emergency communication systems are standard safety equipment in most cars today. Government crash tests and highway safety ratings are a testament to the safety of particular makes and models.
Regarding vehicle safety, these things are important concerns for automobile drivers and passengers. But one safety issue is often overlooked: the terrible toxins in automobiles. All cars, old and new, conceal hidden health dangers.
Antique cars and classic beauties harbor toxic substances in asbestos parts, exterior paint, and auto restoration products. But new cars conceal terrible toxins, too. Everyone loves the “new car smell” of a showroom model, but the chemicals responsible for that fragrance are hazardous to public health. Here is what drivers should know about the harmful toxins in automobiles.
Toxic Asbestos Parts
For more than half a century, manufacturers used asbestos additives in several automotive parts. Brake pads, heat seals, clutch facings, valve rings, gaskets, and hood liners were some of those asbestos parts. The automotive industry stopped using asbestos by the early 1980s, but the substance can still be found in some cars today.
Asbestos is remarkably resistant to fire and heat, which made it ideal for auto parts. But chronic exposure leads to serious health problems, and mechanics and hobbyists are especially at risk. Asbestos exposure is linked to several lung diseases, such as cancer, mesothelioma, and emphysema.
Toxic Car Interiors
Most people are unaware of the toxins hidden in an automobile’s interior. Bromine, formaldehyde, lead and other chemicals are used in upholstery material, seat cushions, head and armrests, floor coverings, and the dashboard.
According to some studies, these plasticizers and flame-retardants are known to cause health damage after prolonged exposure. Liver disease, birth defects, learning impairments, and cancer are just some of the problems caused by interior toxins.
Toxic Car Exteriors
Automobile exteriors harbor terrible toxins, too. Benzene, lead, carbon monoxide, and other exhaust chemicals are harmful to public health. Studies associate carbon monoxide with high blood pressure and heart disease. Benzene is known to cause leukemia. And lead can poison the blood, damage the kidneys, and affect the nervous system.
In addition to automotive exhaust, other exterior toxins impact public health. Too much exposure to auto restoration solvents and glues leads to dermatitis and other skin problems. It also aggravates allergies and asthma. Research also shows exterior toxins contribute to nervous system conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.