Monroe County Library System,  Monroe, MI 48162


From the Reference Desk

Do You Have A Healthy Car?

Did you know that odors inside vehicles can be toxic? Vehicles, with their small, enclosed areas provide a perfect environment for indoor air pollution to collect. Heat from the afternoon sun or even from the vehicle’s heating unit can add to the problem.

According to the Ecology Center’s summer report, not only do interior components of new cars contribute to diminished air quality, but components used to manufacture child safety seats (now required by law in Michigan for children under the age of 8 and less than 4’9”) can be inside polluters as well. These components include the foam, plastics, and fabric used to make seats, steering wheels, instrument panels, arm rests, trim, and carpet in cars, and cushioning, clips, and bases in car seats.

A project through the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor, MI, informs consumers about these toxins, and rates the best and worst vehicles and child safety seats.

Check out the list of best and worst vehicle ratings. Read the whole report, which includes an explanation of the findings, and full ratings for vehicle model years 2006-2008 (brief ratings only for the 2009 model year). Car seat ratings include test results and rankings from 2007 and 2008 models as reported in a 42-page pdf document, also put out by the Clean Car project.

What can concerned consumers do? Inspect the outdated Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976 (TSCA), formulated more than thirty years ago (or read a summary regarding the Act). Check out the Ecology Center’s Take Action Guide to find ways to reduce exposure; contact Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Mich.) who chairs the U.S. Committee on Environment & Public Works and Representative John Dingell (D-Mich.) who chairs the House Committee on Energy and Commerce; and find contact information for automakers and car safety seat manufacturers.

For more information about air pollution inside cars visit:

Environmental Reads:

The Autoimmune Epidemic
by Donna Nakazawa c. 2008
An investigation into autoimmune illnesses identifies commonalities among such diseases as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and type-1 diabetes, in a volume that presents evidence linking autoimmune disorders to chemicals and other environmental factors
The Healthy Skeptic: cutting through the hype about your health
by Robert J. Davis  c. 2008
A look behind the hype promulgated by a variety of health promoters argues that many of these pronouncements are half-truths pushed to advance a variety of agendas and furnishes tips, facts, tools, and resources to help readers critically assess the data to do what is best to promote their health and overall well-being.
  Help Yourself to a Healthy Home: Protect your children’s health c. 2003
Indoor air quality, asthma & allergies, mold & moisture, carbon monoxide, lead, drinking water, hazardous household products, pesticides, home safety. Also available online at
Poisoned Profits: the toxic assault on our children
by Philip Shabecoff c. 2008
In the tradition of "The Truth About the Drug Companies" and "Silent Spring" two veteran environmental journalists expose how corporate America is poisoning the nation's children with toxic chemicals.



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