Question from Catherine

Hi Debra,

I just arrived in California to attend a weddinga nd my sister lent us a truck she has used in her business, so it’sa little rough.

My husband drove my two young daughters to the beach and hiking in it. I finally jumped in it when I was hit with a strong PVC (I think that was what is is) chemical odor and could smell it coming from the plastic floor mats. I had no idea that such toxic mats were in the vehicle, and to know my two kids were being driven in it for hours over a few days. I was so upset. The mats are apparently years old and no one else seemed bothered by them but me, butt hey smelled so strong I was hit with the odor when the door was opened.

My first question is are my children in danger from their exposure? Do I need to clean their shoes etc?

And how do you handle family who think your concerns are silly or when they don’t take your concerns seriously?

Debra’s Answer

I also don’t like the smell of floor mats, but let’s take a look at what they are actually made from before we figure out the danger.

Here’s a couple of paragraphs from an article about materials used to make floor mats and liners.

What are the all-weather floor mats and liners made of?

In order to withstand punishing year-round weather conditions and serious spills, the all-weather floor mats and liners are made from durable materials. Most of the all-weather floor mats are crafted from heavy-duty rubber, which can survive serious abuses virtually unscathed. However, the lighter-duty Catch-All Floor Mats use a thick weave of nylon rather than rubber, but they can still be washed off with a hose.

Floor liners are also made from ultra-durable materials, many of which are proprietary fabrications by the different companies. For example, Husky Liners developed a rubberized-plastic material called polydurathene, which is guaranteed not to crack, splinter or break for 99 years. What’s more, the scientists at Xtreme created Xynet, a resin with the look and flexibility of rubber. Xynet is impervious to the most common chemicals found in and around your vehicle, such as motor oil, gasoline and even battery acid.

That said, I searched specifically for “PVC auto floor mats” and they came right up.

So let’s assume they are PVC.

I’m not worried about your children having this one exposure. The problem is being exposed to these chemicals day-in-and-day out. I would be much more concerned if you told me your children were sleeping every night on a crib mattress with a vinyl cover.

Cleaning their shoes won’t do much by now.

How do you handle your family? All I know to do is education. I’m actually working on putting together some materials that I hope will be more convincing for people who are not yet aware that they need to be concerned about toxics.

I don’t have floor mats in my car. If you think you need them, those made from nylon would be the least toxic. Or I might cut some natural sisal mats to fit.

Readers, any recommendations?

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