Shown above is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4MATIC. The South Korean government said that the utility vehicle showed a high level of benzene in its annual indoor air quality assessment of new vehicles. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Korea

2021 GLA250 4MATIC emits benzene 2.5 times higher than standard

South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) announced on Jan. 10 that a Mercedes-Benz car had a high level of benzene in its interior air.

The ministry examined 28 new models introduced in 2021 and 2022 to check whether their indoor air meets recommended standards for eight toxic substances like formaldehyde, toluene, and benzene.

The level of benzene in the 2021 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4MATIC was around 2.5 times higher than the government guideline, according to the MOLIT.

Benzene is a common industrial chemical, which is also a component of gasoline.

The World Health Organization notes that human exposure to benzene has been associated with various acute and long-term adverse health effects and diseases, including cancer.

Mercedes-Benz Korea said that the problem might have been caused by external contamination of the vehicle.

“Mercedes-Benz conducted the vehicle interior air quality test for five additional GLA 250 4MATIC cars. It was confirmed that all five vehicles met the MOLIT’s recommended standards,” a Mercedes-Benz Korea official said.

“Furthermore, we will continue to monitor vehicle’s interior air quality with constant tests of a variety of vehicles for the satisfaction of drivers and customers.”

Experts point out that carmakers should pay more attention to air quality.

“In-car air pollution be dangerous for drivers if they have to spend much time behind the wheel. This is also the case for passengers,” Prof. Kim Pil-soo at Daelim University said.

“In particular, things may be worse in the winter as people typically do not open a window often. Automakers should be more cautious in managing in-car air quality.”

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at or 82-2-6956-6698.