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Honda took it on the chin for its boring redesign of the Civic, but here's one thing it got right: Reducing the use of toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process for its interior. According to the Ecology Center's new report on HealthyStuff.org, the 2012 Civic uses the least off-gassing plastics, materials that can lead to volatile organic compound emissions. VOC's have been linked to health problems including cancer and birth defects, according to the report.

"Research shows that vehicle interiors contain a unique cocktail of hundreds of toxic chemicals that off-gas in small, confined spaces," said Jeff Gearhart, Research Director at the Ecology Center, in a statement. "Since these chemicals are not regulated, consumers have no way of knowing the dangers they face. Our testing is intended to expose those dangers and encourage manufacturers to use safer alternatives."

Honda does not use bromine-based flame retardants in the Civic and specs PVC-free interior fabrics and trim, while also eliminating most heavy metals from the interior.

The worst vehicle tested, the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, "contained bromine and antimony-based flame retardants in the seating and center console; chromium treated leather on several components; and over 400 ppm lead in seating materials," according to the report.

The good news is that PVC use is declining overall, with 17 percent of new models boasting PVC-free interiors, up from none in 2006, according to HealthyStuff.org. Some 60 percent of new vehicles do not contain bromine flame retardants. It seems that automakers are backing efforts to eliminate these hazardous chemicals from vehicle interiors, with HealthyStuff.org pointing out that Ford and Volvo have adopted voluntary third-party eco labels for some of their vehicles. The average ratings for Ford's vehicles showed a 30-percent improvement from the 2009/2010 study.

Click past the jump for a video and the full press release, including the 10 best and worst vehicles in the study.Continue reading Honda Civic interior rated least toxic, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport worst [w/video]

Honda Civic interior rated least toxic, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport worst [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Sun, 19 Feb 2012 12:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.



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