Caution! Study reveals dangers of car travel

A recent study about the air quality inside cars exposes drivers and passengers to carcinogenic substances was published in Environmental Science and Technology. TCIPP, a flame retardant that is presently being looked into by the US National Toxicology Programme for possible carcinogenic qualities, tested positive in 99% of the cars. The majority of cars also included two more flame retardants, TCEP and TDCIPP, all of which are known to cause cancer.

Researchers found that the main source of chemicals in the cabin air that cause cancer is seat foam. The concern about outdated laws is raised because the flame retardants which were added to the safety standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the 1970s remain unchanged regardless of the advancements.

The important findings were emphasized by Rebecca Hoehn, principal researcher and toxicology scientist at Duke University, who said, "Considering the average driver spends about an hour in the car every day, this is a significant public health issue." She went on to express concern for those who travel longer distances and for young passengers, who are more prone to it, because of their higher inhalation rates. According to the study, levels of flame retardants are increased during summer due to the increased chemical release from car materials due to heat.

The International Association of Fire Fighters, director of health, safety, and medicine, Patrick Morrison, expressed concerns about the flame retardant's potential to worsen the high cancer rates among firefighters. "Filling products with these harmful chemicals does little to prevent fires for most uses and instead makes the blazes smokier and more toxic for victims, and especially for first responders," Morrison said in a press release. He called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of the United States to amend its flammability standard in order to get rid of the requirement for flame-retardant materials inside automobiles. Morrison's viewpoint was backed by researchers who emphasized that using harmful flame retardants in cars has no real advantages.

Senior scientist at the Green Science Policy Institute and research author Lydia Jahl offered practical steps, people can take to reduce their exposure to harmful flame retardants, like opening car windows and parking in garages or parking in shaded areas. However, she stressed on the importance of, completely reducing the usage of flame retardants in cars. "Children shouldn't breathe in chemicals that can harm their brains on their way to school, and driving to work shouldn't come with a risk of cancer," Jahl said, emphasizing the need for regulatory action to reduce the health hazards connected to these chemicals.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
Next Story