The hot, heavy, humid summer days are behind us for the year 2012 but it’s not too late to take preventative measures when we use our car air conditioning.

Benzene  is emited from car dashboards, seats, air freshnener and air conditioners.  It smells like heated plastic and is a Cancer causing toxin (carcinogen).  Besides causing cancer, Benzene poisons your bones, causes anemia and reduces white blood clells.  Prolonged exposure can cause Leukemia, increasing the risk of cancer and the risk of causing miscarriages.

Acceptable Benzene levels indoors is 50 mg. per square foot.  If the outdoor temperature is 60 degrees F, a parked car outdoors in the sun can have a Benzene level go up to 2000-4000 mg.  This is 40 times the safe acceptable level.

Benzene is a toxin that affects your kidneys and liver.  The body has an extremely difficult time trying to expel  toxic levels of Benzene.  People who keep their windows closed when they get into their car will inevitably inhale, in quick succession, excessive amounts.  A car parked indoors with windows closed will contain 400-8– mg. of Benzene.  It is important for  your garage to have an outside window or continuous roof ventilators to help dispel the Benzene.

Many people are in their cars first thing in the morning and the last thing at night, 7 days a week.  So please do NOT turn on your A/C as soon as you enter your car.  Instead open the car windows after you enter your car.  Allow the engine to run for a couple of minutes before you turn ON the A/C.

An additional thought for your health is when you first turn on your house air conditioner for the summer, open all of your windows and let the house “breathe” before keeping windows and doors closed for the summer.

Another point for your health is the quality of outdoor air during the summer.  In many parts of the country there are natural wild fires with a lot of smoke or huge wind storms that bring a lot of dust into the air.  Your furnace and air conditioner’s filters need to be changed more frequently under these types of circumstances.

At one time this summer there were 5 large fires started from lightening strikes all burning at the same time.   Our air was smokey, air quality was bad and peopled were advised to stay indoors.  In my home we had to change the air filters once a week.  With holidays just around the corner, if you use a wood burning stove or fireplace, don’t forget to frequently check your home’s air filters.

Dr. Henderson