April 17, 2007

Ecology Center releases first-ever consumer guide to toxic chemicals in cars

Ann Arbor, Michigan – The Ecology Center, a U.S. membership-based non-profit environmental organization, has released what it calls the first-ever consumer guide to toxic chemicals in cars. Over 200 of the most popular 2006 and 2007 vehicles in the U.S. were tested for chemicals that off-gas from indoor auto parts, contributing to a variety of acute and long-term health concerns due to toxic chemical exposure.

The top ten “Worst Picks”, in order, are the Nissan Versa, Chevrolet Aveo, Scion xB (not sold in Canada), Kia Rio, Suzuki Forenza (not sold in Canada), Kia Spectra5, Subaru Forester, Chevrolet Express, Hyundai Accent and Chevrolet Silverado. The top ten “Best Picks”, in order, are the Chevrolet Cobalt, Chrysler PT Cruiser, Honda Odyssey, Volvo V50, Suzuki Aerio, Acura RDX, BMW X3, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Matrix and Volvo S40.

To sample the vehicles, experts at the Ecology Centre used a portable X-Ray Fluorescence device to test fifteen components, including the steering wheel, shifter knob, armrest or centre console, dashboard, headliner, carpet, seats, hard and soft door trim, body sealer, wiring, window seal and wheel weights. The components sampled were those “most likely to be touched or otherwise contribute to human exposure.”

The Ecology Centre says that “the good news is that some cars are better than others,” and that some manufacturers have begun to phase out toxic chemicals. Those of primary concern include bromine, chlorine, lead and heavy metal, which have been linked to a wide range of health problems such as allergies, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity and cancer. The guide is available at HealthyCar.org.

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