Analysis of the risks of dangerous substances in vehicles
Orienting study of the environmental and health effects during the whole vehicle life cycle

Commissioned by:
Belgian Federal Ministry of Public Health, Safety of the Food Chain and Environment


Carried out by:
Knut Sander, Kerstin Heitmann, Stephanie Schilling
Oekopol, Institute for Environmental Strategies, Hamburg, Germany

November 2003 - July 2004
Today's vehicles comprise a large variety of substances and materials. Detailed information about the presence of dangerous substances in vehicles and their components as well as the possible hazards for the environment and human health from those substances is often not available. Some vehicle manufacturers developed lists including a large number of dangerous substances whose presence in components and materials is being investigated. However, it is often not clarified to what extent those substances are actually present in vehicles not at least because of diversified and varying supply chains.
While the use of four heavy metals (Pb, Cr(VI), Cd and Hg) has been largely restricted by the end-of-life vehicle Directive the potential hazards of other hazardous substances for the environment and for health during their life cycle, including the long-term risks or those associated with their use, have so far not been systematised.
The key objective of the study is to elaborate detailed information about the most important hazards for the environment and for health caused by hazardous substances occurring in vehicle materials and components and the risks resulting from every stage of the whole life cycle.
Besides this the threat for the environment and public health and direct threats to health of car users will be taken into account as separate issues.
Basic task of the study is the analysis of information about the potential risks of dangerous substances in vehicles and its potential environmental and health effects if they are released into the environment. In the analysis the whole life cycle of vehicles will be taken into consideration.
The use of Lead, Cadmium, Mercury and hexavalent Chromium in vehicles has already been the subject of research by Ökopol and has been largely restricted as from 1 July 2003 by the ELV-Directive. Thus these four heavy metals and their related potential hazards will not be considered in this study.
Following tasks will be performed by Ökopol:
  • Research on the presence of hazardous substances in vehicles
  • Perform a survey of the relevant legislation and regulations focussing on European legislation and regulations
  • Research on the environmental and health risks of identified hazardous substances in vehicle components and materials
  • Analysis and assessment of risks from dangerous substances for the health of vehicle users
  • Development of proposals.
Depending on the results of the research Ökopol will develop well-founded proposals in order to reduce the major demonstrated hazards of dangerous substances in cars.
Knut Sander
Stephanie Schilling
If you are interessted in the Final Report pf this project, please contact Mr. Sander