Can you discuss pollutants in car interior materials, and also pollution inside cars originating from gasoline and diesel exhausts outside the car?
— Mervyn Kline, Philadelphia, PA

The interior of your car may seem like a safe haven from air pollution, but it may actually be quite the opposite. Chemicals emanating from the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests and seats mix with the airborne pollution being generated under the hood to form a witch’s brew of toxins for those riding inside.

“Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces,” says Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center, a Michigan-based non-profit. The extreme air temperatures inside cars on sunny days can increase the concentration of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and break other chemicals down into more toxic constituents. Some of the worst offenders include airborne bromine, chlorine, lead and other …