Court News Updates

NGT takes suo motu cognisance of presence of cancer causing chemicals in a car

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) took Suo Motu cognizance of the matter relating to a research study published in Environmental Science & Technology that asserts the presence of cancer causing chemicals in the car.


The Petition is registered suo-moto on the basis of the news item dated 08.05.2024.


As per the article, researchers analysed the cabin air of 101 electric, gas and hybrid cars with a model year between 2015 and 2022. It was found that 99% of cars contained a flame retardant called TCIPP, which is under investigation by the US National Toxicology Program as a potential carcinogen. Most cars also had two more flame retardants, TDCIPP and TCEP, which are considered carcinogenic.   


The news item highlights that these flame retardants are linked to neurological and reproductive harms as well. 


It states that since an average driver spends about an hour in the car every day, this is a significant public health issue. This is particularly concerning for drivers  with longer commutes as well as child passengers, who breathe more air pound for pound than adults.


The news item further alleges that the study found that the levels of toxic flame retardants were highest in the summer as heat increases the release of chemicals from the car materials. The researchers said that the source of the cancer-causing compounds in the cabin air is seat foam. Car manufacturers add the chemicals to seat foam and other materials to meet an "outdated" flammability standard with no proven fire-safety benefit. It further alleges that flame retardants contribute to their very high cancer rates. Filling products with these harmful chemicals does little to prevent fires for most uses and instead makes the blazes smokier and more toxic for victims.  


The above matter indicated the Bench violation of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 and the Environment Protection Act, 1986.


The news item raises substantial issue relating to compliance of the environmental norms and implementation of the provisions of scheduled enactment.


"Power of the Tribunal to take up the matter in suo-motu exercise of power has been recognized by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of “Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai vs. Ankita Sinha & Ors.” reported in 2021 SCC Online SC 897."


Hence, Principal Bench of Justice Prakash Shrivastava, Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi and Dr. A. Senthil Vel impleaded the following as respondents in the matter:


i. Central Pollution Control Board, Through its Member Secretary.


ii. Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change, Through its Secretary.


iii. Indian Council of Medical Research, Through its Secretary.


iv. Ministry of Heavy Industries through its Secretary.


The Bench issued notice to the Respondents and listed the matter on 12.09.2024.