Volvo Battling Over Emission Hazards

By: Glady Reign

Earlier, the Ecology Center in Detroit conducted a survey regarding car emissions. In the said survey, it was found out that Volvo cars emit lower levels of toxic substances than other car makes.

The study titled Toxic at Any Speed: Chemicals in Cars & the Need for Safe Alternatives, delved into measuring toxic chemicals in building car interiors. The study includes flame retardant PBDE and phthalates, which are commonly used to soften plastics and textiles at high temperatures. These substances are treated as health hazards. They are dangerous to the respiratory system. As a fact, prolonged exposure to these substances could promote genetic mutations.

The Ecology Center's study revealed that the concentrations of PBDE in dust and on the windscreen are up to 5 times higher than in the homes of most people. Since many people today spend a lot of time in their cars, car interiors thus have a considerable effect on human health. The study subjected 11 different makes of cars built between 2000 and 2005 to meticulous scrutiny. It has found out that the interiors of Volvo cars have the lowest emissions of phthalates. In addition, the incidence of flame retardant PBDE is much lower. This fact, as attested by the research institute, made Volvo a world leader in the area of interior air quality.

"In an age when many people suffer from asthma and allergies, it is only natural for Volvo Cars to offer its customers a good environment even inside the car," said Anders Karrberg, Environmental Director at Volvo Cars. To maintain Volvo's high interior air quality standards, the automaker uses the right materials. This is done to ensure that the air entering the car through the climate system is properly filtered. The exceptional used by the automaker is especially formulated to promote clean interior climate. This climate is preferred by individuals suffering from allergies and asthma as well as those who are particularly sensitive.

"The textiles and leather used in our cars meet stringent Oeko-Tex standard 100, which ensures that fabrics and hides have been thoroughly tested to check for certain allergy-inducing substances. We also work with contact allergies and are phasing out toxic substances such as certain phthalates. Volvo's IAQS air quality system has also been developed to clean the air and reduce the risk of allergic reactions inside the car," added Karrberg.

Volvo is famed for its dedication in producing environment-friendly vehicles. Lately, it has expanded its range to include FlexiFuel cars. These cars are powered by renewable bioethanol fuel. "Interest in ethanol as a vehicle fuel is growing in Europe," said Gerry Keaney, Senior Vice President Market, Sales and Customer Service at Volvo Cars. "We are therefore expanding our range with additional models on a total of 9 markets. First to get Volvo's FlexiFuel cars outside Sweden will be Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Norway."

Keaney continued, "It's very encouraging that the market is expanding and that political initiatives are being taken." France has announced its intention to build 500 fuel stations for E85 this year. E85 is type of fuel with a blend of 85 per cent renewable ethanol and 15 per cent petrol. So far, there are 23 plants producing ethanol in Europe. The number is expected to multiply three-folds in 2008.

Ethanol is a promising fuel which can be produced from just about any biomass source like corn, wheat, sugar-beet and cellulose. "A renewable fuel will not on its own be able to replace today's fossil fuels, and the range of alternative fuels will probably be far wider in the future. Many different fuels and technologies will therefore be developed in parallel. Ethanol reduces dependency on fossil fuels and Volvo's FlexiFuel programme thus makes a vital contribution to our strategy of environmental sustainability," noted Keaney.

The Volvo C30, S40 and V50 are now available in an environmentally optimized FlexiFuel alternative. They are all powered a four-cylinder naturally aspirated engine producing 125 horsepower. Petrol and bioethanol are both filled in the same 55 liter tank. To complement the green potentials of the cars, the automaker modified fuel hoses, gaskets and valves. Also, the injection valves have been reinforced.

"Our commitment to safe mobility needs to be enlarged from the protection of occupants and other road users in collisions to include personal health for all road users and to offer them sustainable mobility solutions", said Hans-Olov Olsson.

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