Californian Commuters – Beware of Carcinogens

HBI Blog / Californian Commuters – Beware of Carcinogens

The findings of a recent study indicate the fact that commuters in California are likely inhaling chemicals at an increased level that might cause cancer or birth defects.

Poison in Amount

With most chemicals, the poison is not the chemical itself, but the amount inhaled. People, who are under a certain threshold of exposure, might not get cancer even from known carcinogens. However, once they cross the threshold, the risks for various diseases increase.

Government agencies have regulations in place to maintain the threshold at workplaces. The problem lies within private places, including car interiors and living rooms, less studied and less regulated.


Knowing the Poison

Benzene and formaldehyde are two known carcinogens that are used in automobile manufacturing. These chemicals can cause cancer at or above certain levels of exposure. Besides, benzene comes with an additional risk of reproductive and developmental toxicity.

About the Research

The research shows that an average commuter in the state is exceeding the exposure threshold and is breathing in unsustainably high levels of both of the mentioned chemicals. Drivers with commutes of at least 20 minutes per day were taken into consideration while calculating the daily dose of inhaled benzene and formaldehyde.

According to the research, around 90 percent of the population in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Santa Clara, and Alameda, with an average commute time of 30 minutes, have around 10 percent chances of exceeding cancer risk from inhaling the chemicals.

Dilution, Not Solution

The range of exposure also depends on how long a person is in the car, or how much compound the car is emitting. The easiest way to reduce this risk to a great extent is to keep the windows open during the rides whenever possible. Fresh air can dilute the concentration of the chemicals inside the car. The same thing is applicable for living spaces too. If it is not possible to let fresh air in, standing on the balcony for a minute or two at regular intervals can work magic too.

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