There has been a lot of talk about how important it is to leave your car windows open for a little while, before turning the air-conditioning on. Studies suggested that most car dashboards are made using polycarbonate, which when heated up can lead to the release of benzene, which is a highly toxic carcinogenic agent.
There are several organizations that are devoting time, effort and resources towards understanding whether the inhalation or ingestion of benzene can lead to cancer. However, before understanding how benzene might be causing cancer, it is imperative to know a little more about benzene itself.
Benzene is a dull, combustible fluid with a sweet smell, which dissipates immediately when presented to air. It can emanate from regular natural occurrences such as volcanoes and backwoods fires, but more often than not, its presence is due to human activities.
Benzene is among the 20 most generally utilized synthetic substances in the US, China and numerous other industrial nations. It is utilized mostly as a beginning material in making different synthetic compounds, including plastics, greases, rubbers and pesticides.
Benzene is known to cause malignant growths i.e. tumour in view of proof provided by labs that studied two individuals as well as lab creatures. The connection between benzene and cancer has to a great extent, zeroed in on leukemia and different malignant growths, particularly in platelets.
Other than benzene, there are many other chemicals like epoxies, binders, sealants etc are used in the interiors of the car cabin. These chemicals have tendency to realize volatile organic compounds called VOCs. These VOCs influence inside-the-vehicle air quality through their composition of toxic and non-toxic substances.
This includes an array of chemical compositions that can cause eye, nose, and throat discomfort, shortness of breath, nausea, dizziness, and skin problems. The level of contagion differs from one vehicle to another and is influenced by external pollution, the quality of materials used inside the vehicle, and atmospheric conditions. A higher level of contamination may have the ability to damage body tissue or infiltrate the central nervous system.
So, do vehicles really lead to that much production of benzene that it can lead to cancer? In early 2000s, a Japanese investigation suggested that using personal 4-wheelers expanded the susceptibility to various pernicious and hazardous substances, including benzene; there is no definitive proof for the same. The same goes for VOCs.
Being a materials testing lab, we ourselves conduct many tests in relation to presence of harmful chemicals in materials used for cabin spaces in automotive sector. VOC and other such toxins are part of regular testing as most of the reputed manufacturers have mandated the same. In conclusion, it might be sensible to just leave your car windows open for a few minutes, before turning on the AC!
This article is written and published in public interest and is no way binding nor is meant to defame the industry or individual.
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