To many, a BMW is the ultimate status symbol, and the smell, commonly referred to as the “new car smell,” tops it off. But a 2006 study by the non-profit organization Ecology Center entitled, “Toxic at Any Speed: Chemicals in Cars and the Need for Safe Alternatives,” stated that that “new car smell” is actually very bad for you.
There are over 250 plastic parts, fabrics, adhesives, and foams in the interior of a car that culminate to produce over 275 chemicals compounds and toxic gasses that have been shown to cause cancer, learning disabilities, birth defects, and liver toxicity.
Since the study was first conducted, car manufactures have been scaling back on the inclusion of these toxic parts, including BMW. However, it is still recommended that owners take common measures for odor maintenance; things such as keeping the windows down when parked in the sun, using solar reflectors/deflectors, using non-recirculating air conditioning, and finally just relying on good leather cleaners and air fresheners to maintain a good smell in their BMW.
Here are some recommended to precautionary measures you can take:
- Rolling your windows down and avoid using recirculating air conditioning for the first six months of ownership.
- Roll down windows when parking in the sun (the heat adds to the chemical mix) then washing interior with soapy water, afterwards use sun deflectors/reflectors.
- Staying away from ‘fake’ new car smell fragrances and sprays, such as those frequently found at car washes and auto-part store. The makers of these products refuse to release all ingredients, although one did say they contain aldehydes, esters, and ketones.
- Use a good leather cleaner and/or a standard air freshener such as Glade or Fabreeze to keep their car smelling good. Also, refrain from hauling foods, including fast foods and take out, as these odors get trapped in the fibers and fabrics.
Interestingly, in 2008 a team of German scientists replicated the study and found no harmful variants. Yet, in 2003 the European Union passed legislation outlawing the use of non-organic compounds, it is unclear how much this factored into their findings.
The international company Oeko-tex 100, that sets the standards for fabrics and leathers, now ensures that all leathers are chromium free and treated with all natural plant oils. But still they stress caution, stating, “despite the progress, better safe than sorry.”
Enjoy that new BMW smell, but take some caution when you do.