How Germs Affect the Air Quality Inside of Your Car

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Often, we think about the air quality in our homes or offices.

But have you ever thought about the air quality inside of your car? Well, it is something to consider…A ventilation system and passenger cabin of almost every vehicle on the road is a great home for germs and harmful allergens. You could be putting your health at risk without even knowing it.

Considering a fact that the average driver in North America spends approximately 1.5 hours per day in their vehicle, it is important to think about the hygiene of your personal transport. Hygiene should not be just a consideration in the public transport, house, school or office where we all know germs may be living.

Yes, you must also consider your car when creating a hygienic environment for you and your family. Studies have shown that the air inside of your car can be worse than the air you are breathing at home or at work.

A car

Dangerous germs can hide in your car

You probably have read so many times that public transport carries thousands of germs. What would you think if you read that your car can also carry thousands of germs? Actually, there are excellent conditions inside of your car for germs to breed.

You are so busy and you maybe spending so much time inside your vehicle; there are drinks, food, children, pets, it is maybe your mobile office area or a changing room… great home for “little germ buddies”. They get into the car and multiply. If left to multiply, there could be millions of germs turning your car to unsafe environment.

According to a study conducted by Dr. Chuck Gerba, a University of Arizona microbiologist who’s been studying germ hot spots for years, “cars are the moldiest of all forms of transportation…because people aren’t really cleaning or disinfecting these areas.” Gerba found that the areas of the car with the most germs were the dashboard, change holder, wherever coffee was kept, car seats, floors and door handles.

There were even some pathogens identified such as E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter or MRSA. And the most surprising was the mould found on the child safety seat. The cars with children’s and pet’s passengers are usually dirtier and logically have higher bacteria counts which puts children and pets at a greater health risk.

Other source of contamination is through the ventilation system. Every time you turn on the fan, you and your passengers are breathing the air that gets into the passenger cabin through the ventilation system. This air carries over many “unwanted passengers” like germs and mould spores, road dust, vehicle emissions, pollutants and greenhouse gases. Some of them are linked to lung cancer. Many researchers confirmed that the climate control air blowers in the older cars are causing higher levels of germs contamination which could have connection with poorly-functioning air cabin filters.

Moulds, bacteria and viruses love the damp and dark environment where they are able to breed. They can find all these conditions in today’s modern ventilation systems and air-tight cars which work almost like incubators. Microorganisms such as moulds are able to release their harmful spores and mycotoxins into the passenger compartment and cause many adverse health effects (Sick Car Syndrome) such as:

  • Eye, nose and throat irritation
  • Sinus problems
  • Frequent cold symptoms and headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Increased asthma attacks

Severe health effects from moulds are mostly experienced by immunocompromised persons, infants and young children, pregnant women and elderly people. Health problems always depend on the amount of mould present, the length of exposure and an individual’s immune system response among other factors. Getting rid of germs now can help you and your family avoid health problems in the future.







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Iveta Kukurova

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