In The Worst News Ever, The Weirdly Beloved ‘New Car Smell’ Has Been Linked To Cancer… Somehow

new car smell may be linked to cancer

A new study has found that the so-called “new car smell” might not be the healthiest thing to inhale. Who would have thought that an intense chemical smell could possibly be bad for you? Certainly not me…

Researchers from several institutions in China alongside two colleagues from Harvard University published a peer-reviewed paper (so you know it’s somewhat legit) in the Cell Reports Physical Science journal.

In the study, air from various SUVs was sampled over a period of 12 days at different temperatures.

The samples taken from the cars showed high levels of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde.

Acetaldehyde has been linked to cancer through the consumption of excess alcohol.

According to Cancer Council Vic, the chemical “is toxic and can lead to irreversible DNA damage, which can lead to cancer”.

“If too much alcohol is consumed the body cannot process the acetaldehyde fast enough. Acetaldehyde then builds up in the body. Build-up can cause irreversible DNA damage, which can lead to cancer.”

I’m no scientist but what I’m hearing is acetaldehyde = bad.

The level at which the chemicals were found in the SUVs also exceeded China’s national air quality regulation for passenger vehicles.

So hang on, let’s go back a step. What actually is “new car smell”?

According to, the stench “is made up of chemicals released into the air by materials used to make cars—a process known as off-gassing”.

The tests in the study were done on cars that’d been built no more than a month prior. So, they were all super fresh and were clearly still radiating no-so-fun chemicals.

All up, the researchers found approximately 20 different chemicals in the new car smell air samples that had been used during the car’s manufacturing process.

Horrifying stuff.

The study concluded with a fun little tip: drive with the windows open for a little while after you first purchase your sweet new whip.

So, there you have it. Another presumably harmless thing that has been ruined. Oh well…