The 'new car smell' - an enjoyable by-product of buying a new vehicle - may actually be doing you more harm than good, new research shows.

According to researchers, more than 275 different chemicals have been found in the interior of cars and the "new car smell" is really a mix of poisonous chemicals.

Solvents, adhesives and rubbers and plastics, curing and letting out gases cause the smell.

Bromine from brominated flame retardants (BFRs) which are added to plastics to make them less flammable and chlorine used for polyvinyl chloride (PVC), are the real concern.

PVC is used to make plastics, windshields, lead and heavy metals.

These harmful chemicals can lead to problems like liver and kidney damage, childbirth complications and even cancer.

Research by the Ecology Centre tested more than 200 of the most popular vehicles from 2011-2012 and found that gases are released from car parts such as the dashboard, seats and the steering wheel.

The average UK driver spends 1.5 hours a day in their car, which leads to toxic chemical exposure.

High summer temperatures is a particularly harsh environment for plastics, as they can increase the concentration of volatile compounds and the breaking of other chemicals into more toxic substances.

"It's a chemical cocktail made up of lots of toxins," said Jeff Gearhart, research director of the Ecology Center in Michigan, which has been monitoring chemical levels in car interiors for many years.

"There are over 2000 chemical compounds found in vehicles."

Many car manufacturers around the world are taking steps to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) levels in their vehicles, along with other substances of concern (SOCs).

A spokesman for said the industry is working hard to improve things.

"The good news is car ratings are improving with the best vehicles having eliminated PVC and hazardous flame retardants.

"Car manufacturers around the world are changing how they make interior trim to rely more on water-based solvents and glues in order to erase any potential health problems that the new car smell may be causing.

"The newer cars will improve and the older cars that are not environmentally friendly are gradually being scrapped from our roads." tips on how to reduce toxic fumes from new cars

  • A new car is at its worst during the first six months of exposure to heat. Keep the car well-ventilated when driving and possibly when parked in the shade, if safe to do so.
  • Keep the car out of the sunlight when possible, ideally in the shade when it is parked up
  • Use windshield protectors to keep the heat away from the dashboard to keep the car at a cooler temperature
  • Keep your car clean. Chemicals are known to stick to dust particles so a good clean with a microfiber cloth and a vacuum will help

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