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This week (May 13th to May 18th) is National Allergy Week. Whilst most of us are aware of vehicle emissions and air quality issues, how many of us are aware that the inside of our cars may also be harmful? Or that metals, textiles and leather interiors can emit volatile substances, which activate allergies and skin conditions?

Volvo, whose name is synonymous with pioneering safety and environmental achievements, has gone yet another step further with the introduction of a number of technological innovations to improve air-quality, and reduce the possibility of allergic reaction within the car. Volvo's 'Clean Inside and Out' programme, to develop emission -free cars, provides drivers and their passengers with a healthier travel option. Murielle Simmons from Allergy UK, previously known as the British Allergy Foundation, said;

' With allergy increasing at the rate of 5% a year it is important that people are given as much assistance as possible in reducing their contact with allergens thereby promoting a healthy living and working environment. The car is a major part of our day to day lives and Volvo are to be congratulated on being the first car manufacturers to address the challenging issue of allergy'

Thanks to a new particle filter that removes pollen, soot and other dirt particles and pollutants, you will find yourself in a rarefied atmosphere where the air is actually cleaner on the inside, if you drive either the S60, the S80 luxury saloon or the new V70. Add to this the option of Volvo's new Interior Air Quality System (IAQS), which has an additional carbon multi-filter and air-quality gas-sensor that tests the incoming air, and Volvo drivers will find themselves breathing much cleaner air. (See note 2)

The Interior Air Quality System is a technology developed by Volvo to reduce the amount of poisonous exhaust gases, such as nitrogen oxides, ground-level ozone, carbon dioxide and hydrocarbons that have hitherto been able to enter the car. Similarly, gases from fuel components at cold start, non-combusted hydrocarbons from exhausts and in solvents, not to mention the smell of oil, industry or even agriculture, are caught on the active surface of the filter.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) levels in the in-coming air are also monitored and filtered, and IAQS shuts-off the air intake long before the levels become unhealthy.

Contact allergies are caused by allergens, of which there are some 60,000 known. The most common occur in metals such as nickel and cobalt, fragrances, rubber chemicals, adhesives and preservatives. Airborne organic emissions can also cause problems, most of which come from plastic details within the car.

All Volvo's interior textiles and leather fittings comply with Öke-Tex 100, the world's leading eco-labelling standard. This verifies that there are no hazardous substances in either products. This involves the leather being tanned by an alternative to traditional methods. Volvo is the only car manufacture to test interior fittings to Öke-Tex standards.

Some Volvo models have gone even further to create a comfortable ride by introducing non-allergenic fittings. The components on the Volvo S60 that most frequently come into the contact with the skin are hypo-allergenic. The door handles are nickel free whilst the steering wheel and the gear-knob are free of chromium.

"Anyone who spends prolonged periods inside a car might be reasonably concerned with these health issues," said John Pitts, Volvo Environmental Manager, "Our Clean Inside and Out policy reflects Volvo's holistic approach to environmental innovation. These steps to create a cleaner interior follow on from the pioneering work that Volvo has done over the last thirty year to create cleaner tailpipe emissions."

All future models produced by Volvo will conform to the complete Clean Inside and Out policy.
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