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September 18, 2009

Be Aware Of Environmental 'Extras' You Don't Want

Ap_germ-free_flickr_4yas_3492450507_ When it comes to car buying, what about the "extras" you can get with the car?  Are you thinking fabric protection, extended warranties, and anti theft systems?  How about considering bacteria, viruses, odors and harmful Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)?  Most bacteria found in cars come from dead skin cells and soil tracked in on shoes, hands, or animal paws, not to mention any creepies growing on food crumbs left behind by hungry commuters or messy kids.
Because of the current downturn in the economy, more people are buying pre-owned vehicles and need to be aware that the interior of that vehicle could possibly be full of harmful unseen microorganisms.  Experts say coffee drinkers and drivers with children tend to have vehicles with higher germ levels, since mold and bacteria are attracted to sugary substances.  According to a well-known microbiologist, more bacteria and mold is found in cars than in houses.  Dr. Chuck Gerba, a University of Arizona microbiologist was quoted as saying, "In cars, germs seem to tend to build up because people aren't really cleaning or disinfecting these areas."  He said, "Our germs are traveling with us and everybody that travels in that car brings their germs and leaves them in your car."  These same vehicles and the included "extras" are being sold to unaware consumers.

Yes, dealerships do detail used vehicles, but such detailing isn't much more than a wash, dry, and vacuum. If waxed and polished, contaminants (airborne pollens, bird droppings, etc.) are removed from the outside of the car, but it does nothing to sanitize the interior of the vehicle or reduce VOCs where you and your loved ones will be exposed to incalculable contaminants.
Ap_virus_flickr_11304375@N07_1741711197 Instead of purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, some might believe that -- with all the incentives being offered -- this is a good time to buy a new car and not worry about the germs and mold from previous owners.  But, there have been many reports about that "new car smell" and what it consists of: VOC's such as phthalates are partly responsible for the smell associated with new cars that become elevated and more toxic at high temperatures.  Air Quality Sciences, Inc., explains Volatile Organic Compounds as carbon-based chemicals, which under the right conditions can evaporate into the air - hence the term "volatile."  As with other types of indoor environments, materials and products used in car interiors frequently have organic compounds as a part of their composition. These fumes are known to cause a variety of health problems that have been linked to birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, premature births, and early puberty in laboratory animals. 

Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi and Mazda already have cars on the market that comply with guidelines and tout lower VOC levels as a key selling point. General Motors was the first automaker to require that its suppliers eliminate polyvinyl chloride (PVC) from interior panels. Volvo also has conducted tests with the goal of reducing total VOC compounds by one-half in its newer models (according to Environmental News Network 2001) and prohibits the use of three types of phthalates and all types of flame retardants and surface protectants containing polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE).

So, what else is being done to protect car buyers from interior toxins, germs and odors? 

Auto Sanitation, Inc., in Bothell, Washington, says,  "Sanitizing vehicles with their proprietary Ultra Violet Hybrid Auto Sanitizers is the best green solution available to protect car buyers from harmful interior contaminants, while giving dealers the opportunity to attract more customers and a greater profit by adding sanitizing treatments through their service departments."

In 2008, Auto Sanitation, Inc., was founded on the research and development of Medallion Healthy Homes; home service companies across the United States, Canada and Australia that successfully dealt with complex indoor air quality issues since 2000.  The same manufacturer of equipment used for homes now manufactures a specifically designed model for the automotive industry using a combination of technology.

Ap_virus_flickr_36894712@N04_3473950631 Their Micro-cidal Technology utilizes both high-output, clean, ultraviolet ozone and germicidal killing fields that irradiate and destroy harmful microorganisms.  After the ozone has attacked all carbon-based molecules in the vehicle, it reverts back to breathable oxygen.

Clean, UV-generated ozone is very misunderstood and unfortunately, corona-discharge ozone generators have given ozone in general a bad name.  But when proper protocols are followed (especially no occupation of people or animals during the process), ozone is a safe, powerful disinfectant.  It is an environmentally friendly oxidizer because ozone rapidly decomposes to oxygen, leaving nothing behind.  It is cost effective for dealers because, other than the sanitizing generator, there is nothing else to purchase, especially no bottles of cleaning solution to be added to a mister/fogger or fogging cans (all $10-$14 each) that dispense chemicals and are then dumped in landfills.

Ozone is a sanitizing method widely used to control the biological growth of unwanted organisms in food processing, and it has been approved by both the FDA and by the USDA because of its ability to disinfect microorganisms without adding chemical by-products.  Also, ozone is a bleaching agent, a deodorizing agent, and a sterilization agent for air and drinking water; however for ozone to be an effective air sanitizer concentrations must reach high levels.  Therefore, sanitizing treatments should be performed by trained personnel only.

Currently, car buyers are in a unique position: with dealerships desperate to attract and retain customers, now is a good time to ask for such extra protection as a sanitizing treatment when buying a new or used car.   It is also recommended that people have their car sanitized at least twice a year to reduce the buildup of hidden germs because as Dr. Gerba also stated, "If you're a soccer mom, you're essentially driving a germ-mobile." 

Think of a sanitizing treatment as a "fresh start" and added peace of mind becuse there are just some "extras" you don't want.

Creative commons photos by 4yas11304375@N07, and 36894712@N04

Pam_Young By Pam Young
Indoor Air Quality Specialist

Pamela Young has been a co-owner of GP Air Restoration  of Medallion Healthy Homes,  along with her husband Gerald since 2001. Pam and her husband are both trained in ozone safety procedures and application methods.  Gerald is a Certified Microbial Investigator (CMI), experienced in the many aspects of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) inspections, odor, germ, and allergen oxidation and IAQ sampling procedures and standards. 

Their company was the first in the United States to provide a unique home service that dealt with indoor air quality issues, not only in homes, but buildings, boats, and transportation vehicles using numerous proprietary UV ozone generators strategically placed to achieve high concentrations of ozone for optimal results, while vacant of occupants or animals.

Pam's caring nature as a mother and a grandmother, as well as having met so many people over the years who suffer from the effects of contaminated indoor air continues to strengthen her passion to provide a solution and limit human exposure.  Along with the manufacturer, Pam created Auto Sanitation, Inc.,  to distribute the product to car dealerships and automobile service companies.

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