That nice new-car smell comes from the fresh paint, upholstery and plastic in the vehicle’s interior. But the aroma comes loaded: You’re breathing in carcinogenic chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a Taiwanese study found.
A widely used flame retardant called HBCD often comes embedded in foam cushioning, but it doesn’t always stay there. In a 2009 study published in Environment International, researchers detected this noxious chemical in dust on the front panel, dashboard and steering wheel – meaning drivers are breathing it in.
Cranking up the radio may be harming your heart, according to a 2009 study from South Korea. Researchers found that men who were regularly exposed to noise of 85 decibels or above had significantly higher systolic blood pressure after nine years than those in quieter surroundings. Many stereos’ maximum volumes exceed 100 decibels.
A recent study by the Society for Applied Microbiology in the UK reported that the messier a car, the higher the number of harmful moulds and bacteria (like Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus) found in it. Spilt soft drinks, wet carpet and leftover food crumbs may be home to harmful bacteria that cause skin infections, food poisoning, vomiting and diarrhoea, the study adds.
You probably won’t run on cruise control in Singapore very often, but remember this when you’re driving on long stretches of roads overseas: Cruising can delay your reaction time by about five seconds, says a 2011 German study.