While the new car smell is a cultural icon and a source of pride when showing off a new car, results of recent studies indicate that levels of airborne chemicals in new car interiors are significantly higher than is recommended for today’s indoor environments.

The danger does not totally go away as the new car smell fades and levels of these chemicals drop over time, but can increase when excessive heat builds up in locked cars during the summer months, causing the levels to rise again.

Improving the air quality in the auto-cabin is important for the reduction of volatile organic compounds and it is an area that will advance in the future. In the author’s opinion, the improvement of the air quality in the auto-cabin will be developed from the viewpoints of passengers’ improved safety, health and recovery from fatigue.

It is believed that clarification of various characteristics including that of the human sense of smell are necessary for improvement to proceed. Is perfume-masking really a good solution?

Also, the levels of the same chemicals were measured in the private houses of the car vendors for comparative purposes.

The authors used passive samplers over a consecutive time period of 5 days and reported that the concentrations in the showrooms were on average 12 times higher than the ambient concentration around the showrooms and 10 times higher than the concentrations measured in the private houses. Interestingly benzene concentrations inside the showrooms ranged from 11 to 93.2 μg/m3.

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