There are no societal standards for in-car air, so Volvo Cars has created its own in-car air quality requirements that are used when developing new Volvo models.
The Volvo standard has a low limit for TVOCs (Total Volatile Organic Compounds), as high levels in interior air would result in smell and cause headaches, nausea and dizziness, and could trigger asthma. Aldehydes are limited as they, especially formaldehyde, can cause both contact and respiratory allergies.
As emissions are released from the interior materials at high temperatures, Volvo Cars material experts use a sunshine simulator at the Swedish Testing and Research Institute to verify low interior emissions in a new car model. The car is parked under the hot sun lamps, until the interior reaches temperature of 65 ºC (149 °F) as it would after a day parked in sun.
Emissions of TVOCs (Total Volatile Organic Compounds) and aldehydes are measured, to verify the emission levels. Also, the Volvo Car Nose Team members sit in the heated car compartment and evaluate the interior smell on a fixed scale. Volvo has conducted sun simulation testing since 2000.
To fulfil the Volvo requirements, all interior textiles are Oeko-Tex certified, and other interior materials, components and systems have to pass strict tests both at the suppliers’ and at Volvo Cars Material Laboratory.
The sun simulation testing provides a major part of the test results reported to the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association to get their approval and recommendation for the air in Volvo models.