12 September 2018
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Here’s health

Reducing the discharge of hazardous chemicals in the manufacturing process is vital for the well-being of communities and the protection of the environment.

With the global manufacturing industry now tasked to meet far stricter regulations, the automotive industry is already rising to the challenge of the increasing demand for better air quality inside a vehicle.

The European Union’s REACH programme (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of Chemical substances) was implemented to protect people and the environment from hazardous chemicals, as well as finding less toxic substitutes for use in vehicles and other manufactured and consumer goods.

Air pollution from vehicles can harm human health, whether it is exhaust that enters from outside or pollutants out-gassing. Pollutants from vehicle exhaust include carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM) such as PM 2.5, ultrafine particles (UFP) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Car manufacturers are making major strides to improving cabin air ventilation and filtration systems, with many of these changes being implemented in response to regulations in Europe, where greater restrictions on the use of chemicals are already in place. With people spending over an hour a day in their vehicles on average, there is growing concern about prolonged exposure to toxic chemicals.


Anyone who has taken delivery of a new car can relate to the wonderful and distinctive smell that they enjoy, and even boast about, in the first few weeks of ownership. You can even buy an in-car air freshener that mimics the aroma to keep it going for as long as possible. However, the truth of the matter is that this is actually generated by toxins that can be harmful to human health.

VOCs can be found in adhesives, fabrics, plastics and other materials that are used in the construction of a vehicle, emitting the scent through a process known as out-gassing – the release of gas that was previously absorbed or trapped in those materials.

The danger is greatest when the car is new and that aroma is most noticeable. This is when components are still unstable and prone to out-gassing. Heat from a vehicle left in the sun can make matters worse and speed up the chemical reaction. The danger is reduced over time; experts say the worst is usually over within about six months.


Although a number of countries have established regulations or guidelines regarding acceptable chemical concentrations in cars, it is the automotive industry itself that has been the principal force for implementing chemical emissions limits and testing requirements for automotive components.

Motor manufacturers are now united in taking steps to reduce VOC levels in their vehicles, along with other substances of concern (SOCs). They say they’ve accomplished this primarily by using different materials, coatings and adhesives in manufacturing, and that they are constantly looking for ways to reduce the use of potentially harmful substances in their cars.

Chemical emissions testing and reporting are now essential components in procurement requirement for most major automobile manufacturers, even in cases where national regulations or standards do not apply. Component suppliers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) should, therefore, be prepared to evaluate the chemical emissions profile of their products and submit to independent testing when required.


As one of the world’s leading producers of self-adhesive tapes, tesa is supporting the automotive industry in finding solutions to reduce VOCs in car interiors and improve the air quality inside vehicles. It is following a clear ‘low emission’ strategy to fulfil the global demand for fewer VOCs.

tesa’s low VOC and ultra-low VOC tapes are actually designed to meet OEM emission requirements on restricted single substances used in automotive manufacturing, including Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Formaldehyde, Acetaldehyde and Acrolein. Based on the nomination limit, according to the Global Automotive Declarable Substance List (GADSL), its core assortment of 29 adhesive tapes and backings can be used in applications requiring immediate adhesion to rough surfaces, with polar plastics (high surface energy – eg, ABS) and non-polar plastics (low surface energy – eg, PP).

tesa’s product range for interior applications in the automotive industry, in overhead, cockpit and doors systems, consists of two environmentally-friendly levels. In addition to a Low VOC label for adhesive tapes, the company has created Ultra Low VOC tapes – a new segment for products with very low total emission values.

Low VOC declarations in the automotive sector are not subject to a definitive and clear set of global guidelines. However, tesa has used the Chinese GB standard (27630-2016) as its benchmark, since China is a leader in terms of low VOC standards. According to the overarching GADSL, there are about 3,000 substances that require declaration in the automotive sector. The more distinct guideline of the legal and automotive association regulations has addressed between 8 and 13 substances for automotive interiors. According to the VDA 278 analysis, the products in tesa’s low VOC portfolio contain neither the substances prohibited under the new Chinese GB standards nor under Japan’s JAMA standards.

Mike Poulton, key account manager – Automotive at tesa UK, comments: “tesa takes its commitment to customers and the environment seriously, following a clear low emissions strategy to fulfil the global demand for better air quality inside a vehicle. Because automotive OEMs set clear emission standards according to strict government regulations, our tapes are especially designed to meet these new emission limits – in any country or automotive market.”

Brian Wall

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Tesa UK Ltd


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