Do you have to drive with the windows down, because your car is full of cancer-causing benzene?!
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Your Car Is Killing You With Cancer-Causing Benzene!
This message keep going viral on WhatsApp, and social media platforms, claiming that our cars are full of cancer-causing benzene! It’s really long, so feel free to skip to the next section for the facts!
Truth : Your Car Is Not Killing You With Benzene!
This appears to be yet another example of FAKE NEWS circulating on WhatsApp, and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and here are the reasons why!
Fact #1 : This Is Very Old Fake News
First, I should point out that this isn’t a new viral message. This message first appeared in chain letters sent by email sometime in 2009. It then migrated to social media platforms and instant messengers over time.
Fact #2 : No Evidence Dr. Badar Wrote It
There appears to be a neurologist called Dr. Badar Husain Syed, but he is based in Snellville, Georgia, not Atlanta; and he specialises in Sleep Medicine. There is no evidence Dr. Syed ever wrote that viral message.
Fact #3 : Benzene Has Been Linked With Cancer
Benzene is a colourless, volatile chemical with a sweet odour, that is commonly used in many industries. It is found in everything from plastics to lubricants, rubbers, cigarettes, detergents, drugs, pesticides, and even petrol / gasoline.
Studies have shown that exposure to high levels of benzene is associated with increased risk of developing leukaemia. However, it does not appear to be associated with other types of cancer.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies benzene as “carcinogenic to humans”. The US EPA also classifies benzene as “a known human carcinogen”.
Fact #4 : American Cancer Society Called It Fake
In 2011, the American Cancer Society (ACS) addressed the viral message, and called it fake news.
Fact #5 : 2007 German Study Disproved Claim
In 2007, the American Chemical Society published a German study called “Toxicity of Parked Motor Vehicle Indoor Air“, which looked at “the health effects of emissions from vehicles exposed to “parked in sunshine” conditions“.
The researchers exposed a new car, as well as a 3 year-old car with identical interior to 14,000 watts of light, and then analysed their indoor air. They found that both cars produced different kinds of volatile organic compounds (VOCs):
|Vehicle Age||Major VOCs|
|New Car||o,m,p-xylenes, C3 and C4-alkylbenzenes,
dodecane, tridecane, methylpyrrolidinone
|3 yo Car||acetone, methylpyrrolidinone,
o,m,p-xylenes, ethylhexanol, toluene
Interestingly, the study did not find any significant amount of benzene inside both cars, despite subjecting them to intense levels of light and heat.
The study also found that the indoor air of both cars do not pose apparent health hazards. The amounts of VOCs present in the indoor air collected also did not appear to pose any carcinogenic risk.
Recommended : Higher RON Octane Rating Myth Debunked!
Fact #6 : Biggest Benzene Risk Are From Other Causes
Benzene is so commonly used in many products that it is simply impossible to avoid exposure completely. But your car’s indoor air is really the least of your worries, if at all.
Workplace exposure to benzene is a major risk, which is why benzene exposure is heavily regulated at the workplace. Even so, workers in the rubber industry, oil-related industries (including refineries and petrol stations), chemical plants, shoe manufacturers, steel workers, lab technicians and firefighters have increased exposure to benzene.
Outside of the workplace, people are most exposed to benzene from vehicle exhaust fumes, fumes and wastewater from nearby factories, petrol stations, etc. Many people are also exposed to benzene from smoking cigarettes, or second-hand smoke.
To limit your exposure to benzene, American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends doing the following:
Notice how the ACS did not mention driving with your car windows down? Or “flushing” the air inside your car before driving? That’s because there is simply no evidence that there is significant amounts of benzene inside your car.
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