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Study suggests new car smell is actually toxic

Wednesday - 2/15/2012, 11:57am  ET

AP: c4582468-f948-4c41-9a40-c867c71eb28f
The 2012 Honda Civic topped the list for the most healthy car interiors. It earned strong marks for not having bromine-based flame retardants and PVC-free interior fabrics and trim. (PRNewsFoto/American Honda Motor Co., Inc.)

WASHINGTON - There's nothing like that new car smell to signify your status as a new car owner.

Some owners limit how long car doors are left open in a bid to preserve that can't-put-your-finger-on-it smell.

But a new study suggests that new car smell is actually coming from toxic chemicals off-gassing in the car's interior, including brominated flame retardants (BFRs), chromium and lead, reports WebMD.

The new study by the nonprofit Ecology Center analyzed the chemical content of more than 200 new cars for their interior health.

Researchers identified more than 275 different chemicals in vehicle interiors, including those associated with birth defects, impaired learning, liver problems and cancer.

Topping the list, at the healthiest new car, is the 2012 Honda Civic. Researchers say it does not have bromine-based flame retardants and has PVC-free interior fabrics and trim.

At the bottom of the list are the 2011 Mitshubishi Outlander Sport and 2011 Chrysler 200 SC.

Top 10 Unhealthy Car Interiors (the higher the vehicle rating, the higher the level of chemicals)

  • 2012 Mini Cooper S. Clubman - 2.84
  • 2012 VW Eos - 2.85
  • 2011 Kia Sportage - 2.87
  • 2011 Chevy Aveo5 - 2.89
  • 2012 Hyundai Accent - 2.98
  • 2011 Mazda CX-7 - 3.08
  • 2011 Nissan Versa - 3.08
  • 2011 Kia Soul - 3.11
  • 2011 Chrysler 200 SC - 3.17
  • Mitsubishi Outlander Sport - 3.17

For the full list of cars rated on interior health, follow this link.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)