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Is that “New Car Smell” Bad for Pregnant Women?

CBS News 2 reported on a unique story this week that may catch some local residents off guard. Apparently the aromas which are often so distinct on the inside of a new car may actually be caused by chemicals which pose a health risk to those inside. In particular, researchers now believe that the chemicals used in these products may be especially dangerous for pregnant women and young children.

Our Chicago birth injury lawyers had heard that the infamous “new car smell” may have some dangerous roots, but this latest story is the first that we’ve come across which involves some a detailed scientific approach to measuring the dangers of each new car brand. The researchers, from the national Ecology Center explained that the smell that is so distinct in these new vehicles is actually caused by the “off-gassing” of certain toxic chemicals inside the new car’s interior. One of the most common are lead, chromium, and brominated flame retardands (BFRs). These are not tame substances, and all expectant mothers or those with young children should be aware of the risks. In total, researchers identified at least 275 different chemicals in these machines, many of which were associated with birth injuries, liver problems, learning deficiencies, and even cancer.

This latest story was spurred by the Ecology Center’s work examining more than 200 cars from the new lines of all the major manufacturers. The group then ranks each vehicle in their annual “Best” and “Worst” lists based on their findings. According to the list, the “healthiest” new car this year is the 2012 Honda Civic. The researchers noted when releasing their list that the Civic did not have any BFRs. In addition, it did not have polyvinyl chloride (PVC) in the interior, which is common among many new cars (and dangerous). PVC is most often used on car trims and in fabrics. On top of that that Civic was low in heavy metal use, which boosted its rankings in the study. Other “healthy” cars included the Toyota Prius and Honda CR-Z. At the other end of the scale, the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport was labeled the “unhealthiest” car of the year in regards to its chemical use. Other low performers included the Chrylser, 200 SC and the Kia Soul.

Each Illinois birth injury attorney at our firm appreciates that there seem to be new things discovered every day which pose some risks to pregnant women and their developing babies. It is sometimes hard to keep all of the dangers straight. On one hand, it is impossible to avoid all the activities, locations, or situations that pose dangers. But it is at least important to be aware of what the risks are, so that basic decisions can be made which might slightly lower the risks of your child experiencing a birth injury. Of course, if at any time your own child does suffer an injury at birth and you suspect it might be caused by misconduct on the part of your medical professional or another, be sure to get in contact to learn how we might be able to help.

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