A post making rounds on the Internet claims that the parked cars with the closed windows accumulate high amounts of benzene thus exposing the travelers to the medical complications like cancer.
The recent studies conducted by the Agency For Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and the American Cancer Society (ACS) have revealed that an enhanced exposure to benzene is indeed responsible for the increased occurrences of cancers like leukemia. The findings of these studies were re-affirmed by the analysis of the data collected from the animals.
Albeit the evidence proving the role of benzene in the occurrence of cancer, the accumulation of the fatal levels of benzene inside the car remained questionable. An examination carried out in 2001 by the Korean researchers to determine the role of automobiles in benzene generation and accumulation did not find any significant relation between the benzene exposure and the use of vehicles.
“The present study evaluated in-vehicle exposure to MTBE, benzene and toluene on actual commuting routes, focusing on four potentially influencing factors (transportation mode, passenger-car type, commute period and commute season). The transportation mode, passenger-car type and commute season were all found to influence the invehicle MTBE and two aromatic compound levels. However, the commuting period had little effect on the in-vehicle levels of the three compounds.”
The study concluded that the fuel was the primary culprit behind the elevated rates of the benzene. Similarly, the older cars that were running low on their maintenance also registered higher concentrations of benzene.
The most important conclusion drawn from the study of the Korean commuter service stated that the greater levels of benzene recorded in the winter season discarded the air-conditioning system in the vehicles from the list of the plausible reasons.
A study published by the Munich University in the Environmental Science and Technology Journal concurred with the findings of the Korean study. The journal titled “Toxicity of Parked Motor Vehicle Indoor Air” concluded that:
“no apparent health hazard of parked motor vehicle indoor air.”
Even the Internet does not always get it right, eh?