News or Noise: Article claims turning on air conditioner in hot car is dangerous

July 19, 2017 11:35 PM

An article found on social media is warning you not to turn on the air conditioner as soon as you get in your car. Instead you're directed to put your windows down. Why?

The post claims that, "according to research," the car dashboard, seats and air fresheners emit benzene – a carcinogen. The post points to the heated plastic smell when your car sits in the hot summer sun as evidence.

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And if that's not scary enough, the post goes on to say that in addition to causing cancer, benzene emitted from your car poisons your bones, causes anemia, reduces white blood cells and may even cause a miscarriage.

The author of the post claims that when your car is parked outside when the temperature is above 60 degrees, with the windows up, under the sun, the benzene level goes up to 40 times the acceptable level.

According to the American Cancer Society, there is some evidence suggesting an association between exposure to benzene and an excess risk of leukemia. However, there are no published reports or studies confirming that cars actually produce potentially cancer-causing levels of benzene in the hot summer sun.

So while it's always more comfortable to roll down the windows when you get into a hot car, there's no scientific proof that immediately turning on the air conditioner is putting your health at risk.

So when you see this claim on social media – and you will as the temperatures are rising this week -- don't share it because it's all noise.


Jennifer Mobilia

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