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New study shows being in car 20 minutes or longer could raise serious health risks

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Posted at 11:53 AM, Mar 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 11:53:25-05

For real estate professional Anissa Figueroa, her car is much more than a vehicle, it’s her mobile office.

“It is my lifeline, basically,” said the salesperson with Coldwell Banker Realty Global Luxury Denver. “Just running around for listings, showings.”

With a booming real estate market, Figueroa is now spending a lot more time traveling in her car.

“Gas wise, I’ll probably go through a full tank in less than a week, easily,” she said.

A new study shows that drivers like Figueroa could be facing serious health risks from chemicals coming from inside their cars.

“This could be happening in any car driving in anywhere in America,” said Jules Bernstein with the University of California, Riverside.

A team of researchers at UCR recently discovered many commuters are inhaling carcinogens coming from a vehicle’s plastics and synthetic fibers. And they say that breathing them, for even a small amount of time, could raise the risk for cancer and birth defects.

“Benzine and formaldehyde are likely harming people across that threshold if you spend longer than 20, 30 minutes in your car at a time,” Bernstein said,

Bernstein says driving less, opening windows and cleaning your car more often could dilute the amount of chemicals drivers are inhaling. She says real change will only happen when letting your representative know this a concern.

“Because if there are alternatives to these chemicals being used in cars, it is only public concern that will cause manufactures to switch to them,” she said.

With a hot real estate market and money to be made, however, frequent drivers like Figueroa are focused on sales and aren’t always able to limit the amount of time they spend in their cars.

“High traffic times, I’m probably in my car for like 45 minutes to an hour and a half,” she said.

After this study, Figueroa says when she’s behind the wheel, she’ll now do whatever it takes to increase their safety.

“If its preventable in any way or if I can dilute the air in some way, I don’t mind rolling down my windows,” she said.