In-Car Air Quality
Have You Ever Thought About The Air You & Your Passengers Are Breathing In Your Car?
You should! Especially considering the amount of time we spend inside vehicles. If we are going somewhere, chances are good that we are driving there. The average driver in North America spends 1.5 hrs/day in their vehicle.
Air is one of the most important substances for humans, together with water. To survive, humans need clean air just as much as they need clean water!
Are Consumers Concerned About The Air Quality In Their Vehicle Cabins?
Studies are showing that the air inside your vehicle can be worse than that of your home or workplace.
According to a survey conducted by The Dohring Co., 95% of respondents are concerned about air pollutants within their vehicles.
Every time you turn on the fan, harmful spores and other microorganisms are blown into the passenger compartment and into the air you and your passengers are breathing.
Harmful allergens are living and thriving inside the ventilation
system and passenger cabin of almost every vehicle on the road. You may be endangering your health without even knowing it.
Every day harmful airborne particles including vehicle exhaust, fine road dust, pollutants and greenhouse gases are drawn in through your car's fresh air vent.
Toxins Inside Cabin
Micro-Organisms Growing Inside Your Car
While pollutants tend to enter the car cabin from outdoors, serious toxic contaminants
actually originate from and grow within the vehicle's ventilation system.
Today's modern ventilation systems and air-tight cars work almost like incubators providing the damp, dark environment conducive to the growth of molds, mildew, viruses and bacteria.
Molds thrive in dark, damp places such as vehicle ventilation systems, which are conducive for mold growth. If left to multiply, harmful spores and mycotoxins are regularly released into the passenger compartment.
Viruses are transmitted from person to person via dust particulates or droplets in the air. In an enclosed area where the air is re-circulated such as the confined space of a vehicle or an airplane, viruses can spread rapidly to all passengers.
Even riding along with the windows down will allow pollen to enter and swirl around inside of your vehicle cabin where it will eventually come to rest on everything inside.
These thrive in humid and warm surroundings and have been found to breed in air-conditioning systems in cars.
Mildews are very similar to mold but tend not to create harmful mycotoxins. Mildew prefers the same environments as mold and is more likely the cause of the unpleasant odors coming from ventilation systems.
Health Impacts of Exposure to Micro-Organism like Molds, Mildew, Viruses & Bacteria
Exposure to mold & mildew can cause reactions and wide range of health problems depending on overall health, age and the amount of time an exposed person spends in the car.
The elderly, pregnant women, infants, and young children, people with allergies, chronic respiratory illness, and/or chemical sensitivities, and those with weakened immune systems are most likely to experience severe health effects from mold.
The most common health problems associated with exposure to mold for the general populations are:
It is important to note that continued exposure to mold may result in adverse effects on the nervous system.
The most severe health risks are caused by the Aspergillus and Penicillium strains which produce mycotoxins. Mycotoxins may cause a variety of short-term as well as long-term adverse health effects.
This ranges from immediate toxic response and immune-suppression to the potential long-term carcinogenic effect.
Symptoms due to mycotoxins from airborne spores (particularly those of Stachybotrys chartarum) include dermatitis, recurring cold and flu-like symptoms, burning sore throat, headaches and excessive fatigue, diarrhea, and impaired or altered immune function.
The ability of the body to fight off infectious diseases may be weakened resulting in opportunistic infections.
Exposure to Bacteria and Viruses
Many human illnesses are caused by infection with either bacteria or viruses. Disease-causing varieties of bacteria are called pathogenic. Many bacterial infections can be treated successfully with appropriate antibiotics, although antibiotic-resistant strains are beginning to emerge. Immunization is available to prevent many important bacterial diseases.
A virus is an even tinier microorganism that can only reproduce inside a host's living cell. It is very difficult to kill a virus. That's why some of the most serious communicable diseases known to medical science are viral in origin.
To cause disease, pathogenic bacteria and viruses have to gain access to the body by inhalation, contact, or ingestion.
The body reacts to pathogenic bacteria by increasing local blood flow (inflammation) and sending in cells from the immune system to attack and destroy the bacteria. Antibodies produced by the immune system attach to the bacteria and help in their destruction.
Viruses pose a considerable challenge to the body's immune system because they hide inside cells. This makes it difficult for antibodies to reach them.
Health Impacts of Exposure to Chemical Pollutants
Carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream through the lungs and forms a compound that inhibits the blood’s capacity to carry oxygen to organs and tissues.
People with heart disease are especially sensitive to carbon monoxide poisoning and may experience chest pain if they breathe the gas while exercising.
Infants, the elderly, and people with respiratory diseases are also particularly sensitive. Carbon monoxide can affect healthy individuals, reducing exercise capacity, visual perception, manual dexterity, learning functions, and the ability to perform complex tasks.
Motor vehicles emit several pollutants such as benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, 1,3-butadiene, and diesel particulate matter that EPA classifies as known or probable human carcinogens.
People exposed to high levels of air pollutants may increase their risk of getting cancer or experiencing other serious health effects. These can include damage to the immune system as well as neurological, reproductive (e.g., reduced fertility), developmental, respiratory, and other health problems. EPA estimates that car, truck, and bus emissions account for as much as half of all cancers attributed to outdoor sources of air toxins.
Ground-level ozone is a component of smog and a harmful pollutant.
Even at relatively low levels, ozone may cause inflammation and irritation of the respiratory tract, particularly during physical activity.
The resulting symptoms can include breathing difficulty, coughing, stinging eyes, and throat irritation. Breathing ozone can affect breathing and worsen asthma attacks.
Ozone can increase the susceptibility of the lungs to infections, allergens, and other air pollutants. Medical studies have shown that ozone damages lung tissue and complete recovery may take several days after exposure has ended.
Children are the most at risk from exposure to ground-level ozone, since their respiratory systems are still developing and they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults do.
When exposed to particle pollution, people with existing heart or lung diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart disease, or ischemic heart disease, are at increased risk of premature death or admission to hospitals or emergency rooms.
The elderly also are sensitive to particle pollution exposure. When exposed to particle pollution, children and people with existing lung disease may not be able to breathe as deeply or vigorously as they normally would, and may experience symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath.