THAT 'new car smell' everyone loves could actually increase a persons risk of cancer, experts have warned.

Scientists at Harvard and the Beijing Institute of Technology analysedthe air inside new cars parked outside for 12 straight days.

Formaldehyde, a carcinogen known to be cancer-causing, exceeded Chinese national safety standards by 35 percent. 

Acetaldehyde, another carcinogen, was found in concentrations that bypassed safe limits by 61 per cent.

Experts discovered that spending just an hour and a half in a car every day was found to expose a person to enough formaldehyde and acetaldehyde to exceed safe limits.

During warmer weather levels of the dangerous chemicals also increased, the study found.

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“These observations increase our understanding of in-cabin chemical transport and emission mechanisms,” the scientists wrote in their paper, published in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science.

Previous research has shown that even just 20 minutes of driving in a new car can expose people to unsafe amounts formaldehyde, with the health risks rising for those with longer commutes.

Meanwhile, a separate Chinese study revealed the smell could be putting motorists at risk of liver and kidney damage and even cancer.

The scientists warned the heady aroma of a new motor is a toxic cocktail of dangerous chemicals emitted from your dashboard, steering wheel and seats.

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How to avoid the toxic smell

  • 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 if it's 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 benefit you enormously

Source: British Plastics Association 

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