Japanese Automakers to Voluntarily Regulate Volatile Chemicals in Cars

Japanese Automakers to Voluntarily Regulate Volatile Chemicals in Cars

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) has announced that it will take voluntary steps to reduce concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) inside vehicles. VOCs evaporate easily, are hazardous to human health and cause air pollution.

JAMA has established a new method for measuring VOC concentrations in vehicles based on research that focused on actual conditions of vehicle use. JAMA will adopt criteria for 13 chemical substances, including toluene and formaldehyde, that match indoor concentration guideline values set by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare; e.g. 100 micrograms per cubic meter (0.08 ppm) for formaldehyde.

These voluntary restrictions will be placed on new-model passenger cars manufactured in and after fiscal 2007. Restrictions on commercial vehicles such as trucks and buses are now under consideration. JAMA intends to take various measures to reduce VOC use, such as replacing volatile solvents in adhesives and paints with water-based solvents, and, if possible, eliminating the use of solvents altogether. It also plans to cooperate with manufacturers of parts and materials to achieve a comprehensive approach to this end.

In Japan, VOC concentrations in buildings are already regulated by law. Since the interior space of vehicles is also viewed as human living space, it is hoped that more eco-conscious vehicles will be developed in future.