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Your Car as a Shelter From Allergies

Systems Filtering Pollen, Odors Are Now Common But Come at a High Price 

JENNIFER SARANOW / Wall Street Journal 25aug2005


Amid another allergy season, a growing number of car makers are touting their vehicles as havens from sniffling and sneezing.

The new car features are part of a broader trend among manufacturers to cater to the 50 million allergy sufferers in the U.S.

Peyton Eggleston, a professor at Johns Hopkins University and environmental allergen expert, estimates about 20% of his allergy patients say they have problems with their allergies in cars. "You do hear from patients, 'I get in a car in the summertime and I'll have trouble wheezing and sneezing.' It's common enough that it's one of those questions you ask routinely," he says.

Lindsey Orcutt, 29 years old, who works in marketing, is allergic to pollen and grass, and suffers from watery eyes in cars if pollen is nearby. "It's just not very pleasant to drive," says the Waltham, Mass., resident.

While car makers abroad have long focused on making their vehicles allergy friendly, auto makers in the U.S. traditionally haven't, as filters and other allergy-friendly comforts aren't generally visible to consumers. But now, the filter systems and other allergy-fighting features are becoming more common here.

Most manufacturers are attaching basic dust and pollen filters to cars' heating and air-conditioning systems to catch particles before they enter the cabin. Some cars have more advanced filters that use carbon, ultraviolet light or are electrically charged to catch certain gases and odors as well as more dust and particles.

Toyota Motor Corp.'s 2005 Lexus LS 430 has both a filter attached to the air-conditioning unit to help remove dust and pollen and an optional rear-seat air purifier that uses ultraviolet light to break down bacteria, mold and odors. While Lexus has offered the filtering system in the car for a few years, it just began running its first campaign advertising it earlier this year. A television commercial depicts the LS 430 going into a greenhouse and the driver remaining sneeze free until he gets out of the car.

DaimlerChrysler AG and General Motors Corp. expanded the number of vehicles on which they offer filters to catch pollen and other substances for 2005 and 2006 model years. GM's 2005 Cadillac STS also has an air-quality sensor that measures gases that can be irritants and uses recirculation to keep them out of the car. Chrysler has recently added filters to the Chrysler 300, Dodge Magnum and Dodge Charger.

In Europe, Ford Motor Co.'s new Ford Focus comes with certificates saying the interior materials reduce the risk of allergic reaction to the lowest possible level and is allergy friendly. Ford cars in the U.S. don't come with any similar certification, but the company says it is looking into how to standardize such testing for other regions. Ford says cars in the U.S. already avoid many of the same allergy-inducing materials.

Other car brands that have been ramping up their filtering and allergy-tested material offerings in the U.S. in recent years include Honda Motor Co. and Ford Motor's Volvo and Land Rover.

The most common allergens found in cars include dust mites, pet dander, pollens, road dust and mold spores, which can grow on moist surfaces and leaky air-conditioning systems. These substances can get into cars through the windows and ventilation systems as well as be carried in by passengers and evoke hay-fever symptoms. In addition, some car materials release volatile organic compounds (the cause of the new-car smell) that can cause irritation.

While some manufacturers offer filters standard, many make them part of options packages. The purifier on the Lexus LS 430, for instance, is available as part of an $11,320 "ultra luxury selection" package that also includes headlamp washers. On the Chrysler 300, meanwhile, the filter comes as part of a $590 protection group that also includes sealing tires.

It can be hard for a consumer to tell if a certain vehicle is allergy friendly. Knowing whether a car has special filters may require looking in an owner's manual or at a manufacturer's sticker.

In addition, it is difficult to tell if a car has undergone any tests to make sure its materials don't release too many volatile organic compounds, cause allergic reactions or could cause mold growth. While most car makers do such tests, in the U.S. they don't include certification showing that the tests were conducted.


Clean Air in Your Car
micronAir(R) Launches New U.S. Website
Press Release / PRNewswire 3aug2005

Mindfully.org does not endorse this company, but has it here as an example of this new growing business. The best method to fighting the problems of air pollution caused by motor vehicles is to stop driving them. Ending the use of the internal combustion engine is the only way to do so on a long term basis. Adding filters to your cars will only make it easier to drive by enhancing its internal air quality. However, outside the car, where people still spend more of their time, is getting progressively worse. Driving a motor vehicle is one of the major causes of global warming. Did you know that the Russian tundra is melting for the first time since the ice age? 

HOPKINSVILLE, KY. Internet surfers are now only a click away from safer, fresher air inside their vehicles now that the North American Filtration Division of Freudenberg Nonwovens a unit of the global, diversified Freudenberg Group has announced the launch of a new U.S. website for its micronAir(R) line of automotive cabin filters.

With increasing traffic congestion and commuting distances adding up to more time spent in the vehicle, micronAir filters help to protect the health of passengers by improving the quality of air inside the vehicle. Regularly replacing a vehicle's cabin air filter can offer relief for asthma, allergies and hay fever sufferers and helps to protect the performance of the car's air conditioning system.

The new website, http://www.micronair.us , provides consumers with application information and detailed do-it-yourself installation instructions for more than 110 late-model cars, SUVs, light trucks and commercial vehicles produced by BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Daewoo, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Saab, Toyota and Volkswagen.

"Many consumers are unaware that their vehicles have air filters and that they need to be changed in order to keep them working properly," said Barry F. Kellar, vice president and general manager of the North American Filtration Division for Freudenberg Nonwovens. "We believe the new micronAir website will prove to be an important tool that will help spread the word about the benefits of automotive air filters."

The micronAir website also features frequently-asked-questions and background information on the filters. In addition, consumers have the ability to purchase replacement filters for their make and model of car by using a simple product selector on the website.

A product line of Freudenberg Nonwovens, micronAir cabin air filters reduce dust, pollutants and odors entering a vehicle's passenger compartment, enhancing the passengers' driving comfort and health. Cabin air filters by micronAir are installed on two-thirds of the vehicles manufactured worldwide equipped with cabin air filtration systems.

Freudenberg Nonwovens is a pioneer in the development and implementation of filtration systems for global automotive, industrial and commercial HVAC applications. The company's North American Filtration Division headquarters in Hopkinsville, Ky. contains a state-of-the-art research and development center and a highly automated manufacturing plant.

A division of the global Freudenberg Group based in Weinheim, Germany Freudenberg Nonwovens is the world's leading nonwovens manufacturer with 17 production facilities in 12 countries.

For more information, visit the micronAir cabin air filters website at http://www.micronair.us or the Freudenberg Nonwovens website at http://www.nonwovens-group.com .

SOURCE: Freudenberg Nonwovens

source: http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/08-03-2005/0004081559&EDATE= 26aug2005



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