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 |  Feb 19 2012, 4:00 PM

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The new 2012 Civic might not be landing at the top of a lot of lists this year, but it can claim best marks when it comes to the level of toxic materials used.

The Ecology Center has just released its fourth consumer guide to toxic chemicals in cars at HealthyStuff.org, and the Honda Civic is rated as the least toxic car out of 200 2011- and 2012-model vehicles. The study tested for chemicals that off-gas from parts such as the steering wheel, dashboard, armrests, and seats – the same chemicals that contribute to that new car smell everyone seems to enjoy.

“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. “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.”

Topping the charts this year for least toxic was the Honda Civic, Toyota Prius, Honda CR-Z, Nissan Cube, Acura RDX, Acura ZDX, Audi S5, Smart Coupe, Toyota Venza, and Smart Passion. At the bottom of the list was the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport – the most toxic of 200 or so popular models that were studied.

The report also showed that Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, and Ford were the most improved brands compared to their 2009/2010 model counterparts while Daimler AG and Volvo both saw declining averages over the same time span.

Check out a video of the report below:

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 |  Feb 16 2012, 3:30 PM

You may love that new car smell, but don’t breathe in too deep – it could make you sick.

Automakers sometimes use volatile chemicals in its cars’ interiors and there’s a study out from the Ecology Center that lists the worst offenders and the safest bets. The problem with that “new car smell” is that it contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are bad for breathing, especially when it’s confined to such a small place – like a car.

Making the worst list are the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, the Chrysler 300C and the Kia Soul. In the Mitsubishi Outlander, the Ecology Center states that its interior “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.”

But you can breathe easy in certain vehicles. On the safest cars list, from an interior chemical standpoint, are the Honda Civic, the Toyota Prius and the Honda CR-Z.

You can see what cars make the worst and best lists after the jump.

[Source: The Detroit Bureau]

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