Spending More time in the Car may Increase Exposure to the Carcinogens

A recent study at the University of California Riverside (UCR), has made a discovery about commuting for a longer time. It has shown a direct relation between commuting time and the risk of exposure to carcinogens in car seats.

The journal “Environment International” has published the study results stating that longer commute time may lead to an increase in the rate of exposure to a chemical flame retardant (carcinogenic agent). Various studies on automobile pollution have emphasized on air pollutants that enter vehicles from the external environment.

But this study by the UCR researchers has discovered that not just external air pollutants, but chemicals being emitted inside the car may also pose a health-related concern.

Proposition 65 is an act that enlists all cancer-causing chemicals and ensures that the state’s drinking water isn’t contaminated with them. The flame retardant present in the car seats was recently added to this list of chemicals.

Some scientists believed that placing chlorinated tris or TDCIPP in California’s Proposition 65 list would protect humans from exposure to this cancer-causing chemical. But unfortunately, this chemical is still being used in car seats.

According to David Volz, an associate professor at the University of California, the results of this research were quite surprising. The results showed that commuting for even less than a week resulted in an increase in human exposure to TDCIPP [Tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate].

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The study found an association between commute time and exposure to the carcinogen and observed a significant increase in TDCIPP exposure in less than a week.

Using zebrafish models, Volz analyzed the chemicals that may have an influence on early developmental phases. He observed that an embryo may not develop normally in case of exposure to TDCIPP.

Some studies on women receiving fertility treatments have also found a strong relation between infertility and TDCIPP exposure. Almost 90 undergraduate students of the UCR, who commute on a daily basis, were chosen as study participants.

All these students were found to commute for a round trip ranging from less than 15 minutes to more than 120 minutes. The researchers provided silicone wristbands to these participants and asked them to wear these for five consecutive days.

The carcinogen, TDCIPP (chlorinated tris), isn’t chemically bound to the car seat foams. With the passage of time, it appears in the surrounding environment and enters a human’s body via inhalation. The silicone wristbands were used to analyze TDCIPP as silicone’s molecular structure allows it to trap such airborne contaminants.

On observation, the research team found that a greater commute time means greater exposure to the TDCIPP (a carcinogenic flame retardant in car seat foams). The scientists desire to continue research on this matter and look for the methods that may protect commuters from such carcinogenic chemicals.

Up till now, the research team hasn’t discovered any particular method to reduce human exposure to TDCIPP in car seats. But the team suggests that people should adhere to the guidelines provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for decreasing human exposure to contaminants.

Also, the frequent cleaning of the automobiles from inside may also lower the risk of exposure. There is also a need for further research to find how a person may be affected by commuting-associated chronic TDCIPP exposure.