Will carmakers lessen their ecological footprints and harmful chemicals from the inside out?

Do you like the “New Car Smell”? I hope not! Plastics, adhesives, and sealers release numerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. A study titled “Toxic at Any Speed: Chemicals in Cars and the Need for Safe Alternatives” found toxic chemicals releasing inside cars. Over the past few years carmakers have made strides in making their interiors safer and more ecologically friendly.

Toyota's Initiatives
Toyota's Initiatives
This year Toyota plans to increase its use of plant derived plastics. Toyota’s goal is that these “ecological plastics” will be used in about 60% of the interior components on vehicles that feature the new technology. Toyota states that the new plastic emits less carbon dioxide and reduces their petroleum use. These measures by carmakers may ultimately lower the industry’s ecological footprint. (Ecological footprint is defined as “a measure of human demand on the Earth’s ecosystems”.)

I hope studies will support that by incorporating new bio- and eco- plastics there will be a significant reduction of harmful chemicals inside vehicles. How can you reduce your exposure to car interior toxins today? Since heat and ultraviolet (UV) light increase the release of chemicals into the car’s interior – don’t park in the sun if you can help, put a solar reflector in your windshield if your vehicle is in the sun, and ventilate the interior by opening the windows.

To learn more about your Ecological Footprint, visit the Global Footprint Network website.

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Michael Gray

Mike has roots in the automotive service industry. He began diagnosing and fixing cars at a young age in his family’s service station. He has worked in automotive parts supply stores, towing companies, and service facilities. After graduating from St. Cloud State University (MN) with a Bachelor’s degree, he implemented and taught a basic car care program at the high school level. During work on his Master’s degree at Illinois State University (IL), he was a curriculum specialist on a National Science Foundation project where he co-authored ten integrated mathematics, science, and technology books designed for team teaching. Mike has also supervised teachers in Career and Technology Education as a school system administrator.

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