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Rubber Compounding for Improvements in Health, Safety and the Environment

Exploitable results

The objective of this THEMATIC NETWORK was to share information on rubber compounding for health, safety and the environment, to broaden contacts within and outside the European rubber industry and to identify improvements to specifications and standards. The technical objectives were to: - Identify and evaluate safe compounding chemical ingredients for existing rubber types. - Formulate nitrosamine-free rubber compounds. - Find low toxicity rubber process oils. - Reduce airborne pollution and odour in rubber manufacturing and products. - Identify rubber compounds compatible with food usage. - Identify rubber compounds resistant to biodeterioration and microbial growth in potable water. - Consider ways to reduce waste and improve disposal. - Be updated on proteins in rubber. - Disseminate results, particularly to SMEs. - Review knowledge of mould fouling. Work performed has led to the production of 40 State-of-the-Art Reviews, 18 Technical Reports, and 54 Individual Partner reports. Notable achievements have been the setting-up of an information Website ( ), an FP5 project launched (zinc oxide reduction), novel work on rubber odour (electronic nose, smell-free rubber), testing rubber compounds for potable water contact, solvent reduction updating, suggestions for aromatic oil substitution, documentation on the control of factory fumes, proteins in rubber updates, life cycle assessments and knowledge exchange and dissemination (2 open seminars). In all these activities, there was continuous exploitation of the exchanged information. For example, new knowledge on smell-free rubber has led to a full scale factory process trial and the production of rubber articles noticeably less smelly. Successful networking continues to benefit a traditional and yet strategic industry. The overall conclusion is that this Thematic Network to assist the European rubber industry has been very worthwhile. The result has been to establish a great measure of trust amongst Partners, which in turn has led to easy exchange of technical and general information. Proposals for new work were generated and solutions discussed. At the end of the official period of the Network there remains a desire to continue, and ways will be found to do this.