New Car Stench, pardon me, Aroma

October 26th, 2003

To the Editor,

Shame on you NYTimes for your “throw away line” in your 10/25/03 article, “New Luxury-Car Specifications: Styling. Performance. Aroma“. The author devoted one line to noting that the “…new-car smell’s mystique…” is actually rooted in fumes emanating from sources in the car’s construction, “… that studies have shown can be toxic.”. This is indeed the case with PVC vinyl, carpeting, and leather which are all associated with toxic gasses that can be harmful to people in the close confines of an automobile for extended periods of time after manufacture.

Drivers come in all ages and states of health.
Elderly, pregnant women and medically compromised persons need to be alert, requiring good ventilation.
Mothers transport children all day long between school, doctors, lessons etc., with windows raised and locked for protection. The American Medical Association and American Lung Association both term synthetic fragrances to be respiratory irritants and asthma triggers.

New laboratory produced “aromas” means more chemicals will be added to the mix. Trade secret laws allowing chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, benzene derivatives and alcohol esters to be subsumed under the innocuous heading of “fragrance” and are not disclosed to consumers. Safety testing of some of these ingredients is absent or inadequate.

Why can’t manufacturers just give us fresh air from inert materials. We can choose our own scents, thank you very much…

Barbara Rubin

Categories: NY Times

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