Consumers are increasingly concerned about toxic chemicals that off-gas and leach from interior auto parts such as steering wheels, dashboards and seats. In addition to contributing to “new car smell,” these chemicals can be harmful when inhaled or ingested and may lead to severe health impacts such as birth defects, learning disabilities and cancer. Since the average American spends more than 1.5 hours in a car every day,1 toxic chemical exposure inside vehicles is becoming a major source of potential indoor air pollution. While the emphasis of this study is on the exposure to toxic chemicals during the use phase of vehicle life, our rating system also considers potential health and environmental impacts during the production of materials and end-of-life of vehicles.

The good news is that some cars are better than others. Toxic chemicals are not required to make indoor auto parts, and some manufacturers have begun to phase them out. Scientists and researchers at the Ecology Center have created www.HealthyStuff.org so that consumers can access information about the chemicals used in their car or the car they are thinking of purchasing. In addition to gas mileage and crash test ratings, car-buyers can now learn if the materials in their car are safe for themselves and their family. 

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