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Toxic chemicals found in many new cars

Mail&Guardian - International
Berlin, Germany
12 October 2005 08:51

The intensive odour in many new cars results from a toxic cocktail of more than 100 different chemicals that can have serious health effects, the German environmental organisation Bund has warned.

"The concentration of chemicals surpasses the legal limit substantially in some cases," Bund chemical expert Patricia Cameron said.

"Even months after the car's production the chemicals leak into the car interior, endangering the health of the driver and passengers," according to the expert.

Most of the chemicals come from paint and textiles and are emitted especially during hot weather conditions. They can sometimes form a thin film on the interior surface of the car windows.

Bund and its sister organisation in Austria, Global 2000, conducted tests on six cars including models from Opel, Mercedes-Benz, Renault, Mitsubishi, Volkswagen and Alfa Romeo.

In some of the cars the organic chemicals such as formaldehyde and benzol measured 15 milligrammes per cubic metre, according to Bund. One milligramme however can already cause irritation to the skin, eyes and respiratory system.

"When scientists for instance recommend a maximum ceiling of 0,125 milligrammes per cubic metre of air for formaldehyde and three times as much is found in cars -- something has to be done," according to Cameron. - Sapa-DPA