Love that new car smell? It may be deadly.

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According to a press release yesterday by the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, PBDEs, used as fire retardants, and phthalates, used primarily to soften PVC plastics (partly responsible for "new car smell"), were found in dangerous amounts in dust and windshield film samples.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) are flame retardants added in large amounts to many products such as fabrics, plastics, furniture, mattresses, electronics, automobiles, and computers. These groups of chemicals have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births and early puberty in laboratory animals, among other serious health problems.

According to the PBDE Factsheet (.doc):
PBDE’s are not chemically bound to plastic or fabric, so they are released as dust or vapors over the lifetime of the product. There is strong scientific evidence that levels of PBDEs are rising rapidly in the environment, in the food chain and in human bodies. They are highly toxic even at low levels in laboratory animals.
The study found that concentrations of PBDEs in dust and windshield film samples were up to five times higher than those found in homes and offices in previous studies. Since the average American spends more than 1.5 hours in their car every day breathing in these chemicals, the inside of a car is a significant source of indoor air pollution. According to the EPA, indoor air pollution is currently one of the top five environmental risks to public health.

Man. I love that smell.

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