If you love the “new-car smell” that you encounter when you shop for a new automobile, you should know that that smell could be bad for you.
Ecology Center in February 2012 issued a consumer guide to toxic chemicals and ranked the best and worst vehicles based on the amount of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which cause the new-car smell, that are in the interior.
Jeff Gearhart of Ecology Center says he doesn’t know of any studies or statistics that link illnesses to VOCs, but he’s heard of consumers who have breathing issues and rashes as a result of the chemicals that are in new vehicles. Although the new-car smell can wear off in a few months, he says, some VOCs stay in the vehicle for longer than a year before they lose their potency.
If you’re sensitive to VOCs, Gearhart recommends that you upgrade the cabin air filter. Most filters can stop particulate matter, but he says upgrading to an activated carbon filter (up to $70) can nullify VOCs.