Eliminating Substances of Concern
Through a range of processes and tools for monitoring and managing materials and substances, we ensure our products meet all relevant local and global regulations. We have also managed to eliminate or reduce substances of concern where economically and technically feasible, well ahead of regulatory requirements.
How We Monitor and Manage Materials
Our Restricted Substance Management Standard (RSMS) designates the substances to be restricted or eliminated from our operations and our vehicles. The first of its kind in the industry, the RSMS process is embedded in our Global Product Development System (GPDS).
We also monitor and manage materials through the following systems and tools:
- International Material Data System (IMDS): An industrial web-based tool sponsored by around 40 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and used by more than 100,000 automotive supplier companies to track, review and report vehicle components, materials and substances
- Global Materials Management (GMM): Ford’s materials and substances tracking and reporting tool used by Ford engineers and suppliers
- Global Material Approval Process (GMAP): System for reviewing and approving materials used in Ford plants and facilities, for both production and non-production materials (e.g., vehicle and plant floor paints, steel, plastics and adhesives)
- Materials and Toxicology System (MATS): Ford’s internal database for managing specifications, Material Safety Data Sheets and Approved Source List, and generating compliance reports
Continuing Our Progress
We were one of the first automotive companies working to eliminate a number of chemicals1 being monitored by governments around the world, including the E.U., U.S., Canada, Japan and China
We phased out “hex chrome” (hexavalent chromium) across our operations and products before it was banned. Hex chrome is a corrosion coating used on nuts, bolts and brackets that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration lists as a potential lung carcinogen and is banned by End of Life Vehicle Directives issued by the E.U., Japan and South Korea
Globally, we have transitioned from lead to steel wheel weights
The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency committing to phase copper out of brake friction material, because it degrades on use and can end up in the water cycle through urban drainage systems. We already offer vehicles with copper-free brake pads
We eliminated mercury from all components, and we’re working to address end-of-life impacts associated with mercury-based components in older vehicles
We have a phase-out requirement for all E.U. REACH-restricted substances that have reached or are approaching their sunset dates2
We monitor, and provide advice to relevant governmental agencies about, ongoing developments in other global substance restrictions such as the Stockholm Convention
Taking a leadership role in our efforts to eliminate less desirable chemicals, we lead or chair several industrial association working groups. These include:
- The U.S. Council for Automotive Research’s North America Automotive Substances of Concern Committee
- The Automotive Industry Action Group’s Chemical Management and Reporting Group
- The Global Automotive Declarable Substance List (GADSL) Steering Group
- ACEA’s (E.U. car manufacturer association) working group on Materials and Substances
Rare Earth Elements
Small quantities of the 17 “rare earth elements” (REEs) are used in internal combustion engine vehicles, and the motors and battery systems of electric vehicles contain neodymium and dysprosium, yet REEs are hard to extract, both economically and sustainably. Having assessed the (albeit small) amount of REEs our vehicles contain, we have focused on reducing their use in our electrified vehicle battery systems. Compared to its predecessors, our third-generation hybrid battery system is expected to save up to 500,000 pounds of REEs annually.
Ensuring Occupant Health
Ford is working to provide healthy vehicle interiors and use information technology to improve occupant health and wellness.
Under specific conditions, the properties that make nanoscale materials useful may also pose risks to human health and the environment. Current research largely focuses on exposure during manufacturing and processing, but we want to prevent any unwanted consequences that might occur during the entire life cycle of nanoparticles, due to environmental factors (moisture, temperature, etc.) or mechanical actions (vibrations, abrasion, etc.). The Ford Plastic Research group has developed guidelines to ensure that research involving nanotechnology is conducted safely and responsibly, and that environmental considerations are incorporated into our technical innovations and product development.
Our vehicle interior air quality specifications consider the air quality in our vehicles, and our engineers also test the materials that come into direct contact with passengers for any allergen impacts. Many of our vehicles feature high-performance filters that keep out allergenic pollens. Having applied these specifications in our European vehicles, we are now phasing them in across other regions, starting with the United States.
In-Car Health and Wellness
We’re exploring ways to use in-vehicle communication systems and other technology to help drivers to monitor their own health and wellness. For example:
- The Allergy Alert® app enables drivers to check pollen and other health-risk conditions with simple voice commands
- We are exploring how wearable devices, including smart watches and fitness bands, can measure indicators of driver stress such as heart rate, perspiration and skin temperature
- We are engaging with medical companies and auto insurers to see whether monitoring in-vehicle driver wellness could result in lower insurance premiums
- We are partnering with the Henry Ford Health System on a health and wellness app challenge
- Ford research teams in Dearborn, Aachen and Nanjing are partnering with university collaborators at the University of California, Berkeley, Peking University; and Tsinghua University to better understand the sources of emissions near roads and how to quantify them
- Including hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) and decabromodiphenyl ether (decaBDE).
- The date after which a substance of concern cannot be used in the E.U. without authorization from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).