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US-made cars have hidden dangers, study says

US-made cars have hidden dangers, study says

New research by scientists in Canada and the US has found hazardous substances in the cabins of 99% of US-made vehicles since 2015.

US-made vehicles contain dangerous substances, research finds

  • New research shows that 99% of vehicles manufactured in the US since 2015 contain hazardous materials used to meet fire safety standards;
  • The study, led by Rebecca Hoehn of Duke University, identified substances such as tris(1-chloro-isopropyl)phosphate (TCIPP) in all the vehicles analyzed. These chemicals are under investigation for possible links to cancer and other health hazards;
  • The researchers found that the concentration of these chemicals in cars increases significantly during summer, posing a greater risk to drivers and passengers, especially children.
  • These results have called for scientists to reevaluate the use of flame retardants in vehicles. They argue that current safety regulations make fires more toxic and are outdated and in urgent need of updating.

These materials, intended to meet fire safety standards, may do more harm than good, researchers warn. They are now calling for a re-evaluation of the use of these substances.

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Every car has a hidden risk, scientists warn

(Image: PV Productions/Shutterstock)

Environmental scientist Rebecca Hone of Duke University led the study – published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology. “We discovered that car interior materials release harmful chemicals into the cabin air,” said Rebecca.

Given that the average time a driver spends in a car is approximately one hour per day, the scientist asserts that this is a significant public health problem.

Researchers analyzed the indoor air of 101 vehicles and found that tris(1-chloro-isopropyl) phosphate, or TCIPP, was present in 99% of the vehicles. This flame retardant, used in furniture and textiles, is under investigation for its possible links to cancer.

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Cars on the avenue
(Photo: José Cruz/Agência Brasil)

Other common compounds detected are tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, or DTCIPB, and tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate, or DCEP, both of which are associated with potential cancer damage and effects on the nervous and reproductive systems.

The study also revealed that the amount of these chemicals increases with temperature. In summer, the concentration of these chemicals in vehicles is two to five times higher than in winter.

This is of particular concern to drivers who spend long hours behind the wheel and children who inhale more air relative to their body weight.

No word yet on the danger lurking in cars, but…

Aerial view of transportation in the United States
(Photo: Michael Kanzaruk/Shutterstock)

Despite the evidence of risks, there is still no firm conclusion about how dangerous these concentrations are to human health. However, the presence of these substances is enough to cause concern.

Patrick Morrison, health and safety officer for the International Association of Fire Fighters, argues that flame retardants make fires more toxic and that safety regulations dating back to the 1970s should be urgently updated.

This research is not pioneering in highlighting the dangers of chemicals in car interiors. Lydia Zall, an environmental chemist at the Green Science Policy Institute in the US, comments: “What is really needed is to reduce the amount of spark plugs that are added to cars.”

Jahl also emphasizes that everyday activities such as going to work or school should not expose individuals to health risks such as cancer or damage to brain development.