A new study conducted at the University of California, Riverside found that drivers who spend more than 20 minutes in their cars are at risk of exposure to formaldehyde and benzene. Your daily commute could increase the risk of cancer. The study also found that just 20 minutes in the car can subject you to unacceptably high levels of two toxic chemicals. The scientists studied the level of carcinogens in cars and they compared these with the average commute time of people in the state. Reports analyzed that the safe levels of benzene and formaldehyde are exceeding during a 20-minute commute in five percent of cases.
A Study Found a Link Between Longer Commutes And Increased Risk Of Cancer
The lead author and graduate student at the University of California, Riverside said that both are toxic chemicals embedded in-vehicle carpets, paints, and fuels that can lead to cancer and developmental defects. Reddam and her co-author, David Volz, environmental toxicology professor calculated the daily dose of benzene and formaldehyde being inhaled by drivers. From their calculations and related study, they found that at least 90% of the population in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, Santa Clara, and Alameda counties, and traffic-heavy counties in California have a 10% chance of breathing in those chemicals.
Three out of every four exceed the safe level for benzene
The study also found that three out of every four commutes which last 200 minutes or longer also exceed the safe level for benzene. They figured out this from the exposure level and investigated how this will impact the risk of cancer and other carcinogen-related health issues. According to the researcher’s report, “The presence of formaldehyde and benzene within vehicles can be attributed to extensive use in different vehicle parts. Formaldehyde used in carpets, leather, and paints within vehicles, resulting in off-gassing and high concentrations within indoor air. The high concentration of benzene in vehicles has been attributed to fuel-and exhaust-related emissions that accumulate in the cabin of operating vehicles”.
One of the graduate students and the lead of the study conducted by the University of California, Riverside said that the commutators should consider opening the windows during their commute to reduce the risk. “Of course there is a range of exposure that depends on how long you are in the car, and how much of the compounds your car is emitting. At least with some airflow, you would be diluting the concentration of these chemicals inside your car”, she continued.
The researchers ended up the note by asserting the need for continuing research. They noted that there is a need for more information on the potential association between commute time within vehicles and exposure to both of these chemicals.