The adhesive and sealant market is constantly demanding new products, with improved performance and minor impact on human health and the environment. The European Regulation REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals) asks that any chemical that is placed on the EU market must have a thorough physical chemical and toxicological assessment combined with precise description of safe use. At the moment, there are approximately 1600 substances registered in the category: adhesive and sealant. Most of them are classified irritant or corrosive and/or sensitiser.
In the past, all toxicological tests were performed with live vertebrate animals. Beyond the ethical issue, it is demonstrated that the response of animals is not always reproducible and worse, it may not model the real response in humans. Most recent advances in research allowed the gradual implementation of new strategies, based on the use of human cells with systems that are focused on the understanding of the real biological activity of substances. At the moment, areas of skin/eye irritation and sensitisation are well developed and a plethora of assays available to fit different needs. This strategy can be also applied during the study of new products to support the development of more environmentally friendly products.