Saturday, January 7, 2012

Guest Post - Dangers of Toxins Found in Automobiles

This post is by Brian Turner.  I thought I'd share it since it provides good information on some of the chemicals that can be dangerous when working on cars.

Dangerous Toxins Found in Automobiles

For many people, an automobile is more than just a means of transportation; it's an investment that sometimes has sentimental value. Beyond that, many individuals and families spend a lot of time in their vehicles, whether it's driving to and from work and school or taking road trips across the country. In fact, it's estimated that the average American spends anywhere from one to three hours per day in an automobile or vehicle of some kind.

Now imagine all those hours adding up over the course of months and years and take into consideration the fact that much of this time may be spend exposed to dangerous toxins such lead, bromine, asbestos, polyvinyl chlorine and ethyl benzene. These materials and chemicals aren't found in the exhaust fumes your car releases when you drive; they're found directly in interior components, including interior carpeting, dashboards, vinyl and cloth seats, and steering wheels.


The dangers of
lead are well known to most people. Lead poisoning can lead to a variety of problems, including fertility problems, joint and muscle pain, learning impairment in children, kidney problems and chronic headaches. Lead is especially common in classic cars since many car manufacturers used lead based paint in past decades. For people who keep or work on classic cars, being aware of the fact there may be lead particles released during paint stripping or other bodywork is essential in keeping safe.


Asbestos has been linked to many health problems and cancer types, including mesothelioma. It's estimated that over 9500 people die each year from asbestos related health issues. While regulations have tightened over the years, asbestos can still be found in some cars, especially classic and foreign models. It is most often present in hood liners,
brake pads, valves and gaskets and clutch linings. Asbestos is especially dangerous when breathed into the lungs, so protection for mechanics working on these areas of a vehicle is very important.

Bromine, Polyvinyl Chlorine and Other Fire Resistant Chemicals:

Other dangerous chemicals are found in carpets, dashboards, shifters and armrests. These chemicals include bromine, polyvinyl chlorine (PVC),
benzene and others. Most of these are fire resistant and applied either as an unsealed coating to interior vinyl and plastics or mixed into plastic material during manufacturing. Many of these materials, chemicals and metals are known to cause a variety of health problems, including neurological damage, anemia, respiratory problems, learning impairment and birth defects. They may be breathed in or absorbed through prolonged contact with the skin.

Always wear a facemask and eye protection while cleaning the interior of your car, and be sure to research which makes and models have the lowest amount of toxins in exterior and interior parts. 

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