3 August 2022

Lowering levels of PAHs

Improving health by lowering levels of PAHs

Jens S is another Axel Johnson International company taking a leading role in the group’s drive to phase out unsafe substances. In 2017, the Swedish-based reseller of rubber transmission belts for industrial applications decided to adopt a holistic approach in its production and sourcing.

The use of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons – PAHs for short – as a stabilising agent poses a major health challenge in rubber production. PAHs are carcinogenic and occur in “carbon black”, a fossil-based substance used in rubber production and which gives rubber its black colour. PAH content in rubber is directly related to the quality of the carbon black used.

The company has a high-quality main supplier whose belts have the lowest PAH level in the market. Test results have raised no concerns with PAH levels in these belts. But Christoffer Eriksson, Strategic Purchasing and Digitalisation Manager at Jens S, says the company has a duty to educate customers about PAHs.

“We really want to push the narrative that we take account of PAHs when we talk about belts as it’s a key quality, health and safety issue,” Christoffer says. “Even if manufacturers produce products with low PAH, they don’t market it. We need to work on making our customers aware and bringing PAHs to light.”

Increasing awareness about PAHs

For Jens S, it is a matter of human health. Some of its belts are used to drive residential ventilation fans, meaning that consumers – as well as factory workers – come into direct contact with them.

“Our belts circulate air into people’s homes. We want everyone who comes into contact with our belts to be safe,” Christoffer says.

Jens S is currently planning a marketing drive with its largest supplier to educate and explain the risks of PAHs in rubber. Christoffer believes enhanced awareness will ultimately lead to higher revenue as some customers abandon lower-quality belts with high PAH levels.

“The costs involved are not very high,” he says. “Low PAH belts are only slightly more expensive to produce. So if you want a high performance belt, you might as well make it a more sustainable one too.”

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