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Your Long Commute Could Be Increasing Your Cancer Risk

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We already know breathing freeway air pollution is bad, so like good drivers we've all learned to roll up the windows and keep the air on recirculate (right?).

But now they tell us breathing the air inside could be harmful, too, because of flame retardant chemicals that car companies put in seats and other parts of the interior to meet federal safety standards.

One such substance is TDCIPP, or chlorinated tris, which can gradually leach into the air. And the longer your commute, the greater your exposure, according to a new study out of UC Riverside.

The high number of commuters among the student body at UCR (70%) made it easy to find subjects, said Prof. David Volz, one of the study's authors. So 88 students were given silicone wristbands to wear nonstop for five days. The wristbands were then sent to a lab for testing.

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Volz said the analysis showed subjects who spent more time in the car were exposed to higher levels of TDCIPP.

So what do we know about TDCIPP?

  • The chemical was used in kids' pajamas until it was found to be toxic in the 1970s, and it has been placed on California's list of hazardous chemicals.
  • The state law requiring warning labels for items made with hazardous chemicals encouraged the furniture industry to also phase out TDCIPP, Volz said.

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