Automobile grooming guru Warren Steel, head of Auckland’s premiere car spa Shyn4U warns DIY car care aficionados against using car care products likely to contain hazardous substances that not only affect the health of the user but also prove unsafe for the environment.
Why the issue has raised its hurtful head now?
It may be wrong to assume that hazardous substances have been introduced in car grooming products now, since these have long been in use with most products. What has happened now is the awareness, which wasn’t there before. People have come to know lately how certain ingredients present in car shampoo or window cleaning chemicals can affect the skin or lead to acute pulmonary damage and sundry other diseases. Researchers have also found that prolonged exposure to such products creates a kind of ‘Chemical Stress’ which impairs the human immune system, causing large scale allergies and related issues.
Car care products likely to contain hazardous substances
- Car Shampoo: Cleaning agent for washing the outer shell of the car, used with water and sponge. Manual work with use of both hands.
- Varnish cleaner and Polishes: Product containing sanding powder, along with wax and other additives that are used for refurbishing withered car varnish. Manual work with use of hands.
- Hard waxes: Products used for enhancing the gleam. Applied by hand or with the help of machine.
- Car window cleaner: Product used for cleaning car windows and windshields. Applied by hand through manually operated spray gun.
- Cockpit spray: Product provides anti-static film that repels dust and dirt, as also shields UV damage.
- Rim or wheel cleaner: Strong detergent that removes dirt, dust and ‘brake dust’ emanating from disc brakes.
- Engine bay Cleaner: Currently not in use since most contemporary car engines contain many electronic parts and so can not be washed with water or other chemicals.
Types of hazardous substances likely to contain in car care products
Since most car care products are either used for removal of dust and dirt from the outer shell of the automobile or to provide gloss and gleam to it, common hazardous substances that are found in them include solvents, surfactants (also called surface-active agents, such as detergents that can reduce the surface tension of a fluid, thus allowing it to foam or penetrate solids), inorganic acids and a horde of additives.
As for the solvents, these include mineral oil distillates such as naphtha (heavy, medium or light fractions), which when ingrained continuously can not only cause aspiration hazards but also lead to severe pulmonary damage and death. Then there are various forms of alcohol, continuous inhalation of which may lead to a number of throat disorders that are difficult to cure, often culminating in lower respiratory disease conditions.
So; what is the answer?
“Let us be practical,” recommended the grooming guru. Since some types of hazardous substances may not be avertable as even the most advanced products often contain a few irritating substances, the only way out is to play safe with the products. This includes wearing of gloves, as also wearing goggles to protect the eyesight. Yet another precautionary measure foretells not to use volatile car care products in a closed garage where unseen fumes do not get a chance to leave the premises. However, Warren also recommended the following safety points about using car care products.
Safety practices to be observed
- Always read the labels before use and follow the guidelines about the use of the product/products
- Choose products with trusted eco-labels
- Choose products that are made by trusted manufacturers
- Choose products that are locally made, instead of having been imported from elsewhere
- Choose biodegradable products as much as possible
Always remember the age-old adage that says ‘Prevention is better than cure’. With a few preventive measures, you can avoid major health hazards. Wearing gloves, for instance, while hand washing a car will prevent skin problems. The same is true with wearing goggles when using aerosol spray of spirit or alcoholic substances that will save your eyes from being hurt. A little care will go a long way towards living a healthy life.