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Hot Melt fumes

Are hot melt adhesive fumes toxic or hazardous?

Tecbond shaped and bulk hot melt adhesives have been used around the world since 1974. From time to time, we have been asked about the possible hazards from inhaling hot melt fumes and the risk to pregnant operators coming into contact with hot melt fumes.

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A number of investigations and tests have been conducted by raw material suppliers and manufacturers of adhesives, providing much data. However, no hard evidence has emerged that toxic fumes are evolved by Tecbond shaped hot melt adhesives that are used at recommended (normal) operating temperatures.

It is generally acknowledged that hot melt fumes can be irritating, and on occasion have caused respiratory effects in susceptible individuals, though to date these have been of a temporary nature. Hot melt fumes can ignite under some circumstances, as can most other organic vapours. Ensure hot melts are run at the recommended operating temperatures and use in a well-ventilated area.

There is no published information with respect to the maximum safe concentration limits of hot melt fumes. We would like to point out the policy of the Health & Safety Executive; even where there are no known toxic effects, exposure should be kept as low as is reasonably practicable.

All hot melt adhesives produce fumes (to a greater or lesser extent) at their operating temperatures, and from time to time we are asked for the precise nature and composition of hot melt fumes. In spite of the volume of test data available from raw material suppliers and manufacturers it is not possible to answer with accuracy because the fuming is dependent on:

  • The adhesive formulation
  • The users operating temperature
  • The previous heat history of the product

These factors affect the quantity as well as the composition of the fumes. The concentration is dependent also upon the degree of extraction in operation.


When hot melt adhesives are grossly over-heated (at least 30c-40c above the recommended operating temperature, which varies according to product type), chemical breakdown becomes more likely. Some of the decomposition products could be toxic, but the concentrations are not expected to be significant except in very abnormal circumstances. It is, therefore, important that overheating is avoided.

Tec glue guns are fitted with thermostatically controlled heaters to maintain the pre-set operating temperatures. If the glue gun is not being used for periods of 30 minutes or more, turn the tool off or dispense a small amount of adhesive to avoid the adhesive over-heating.


In a nutshell, hot melt adhesives pose virtually no hazards to health when used in normal industrial practice. Always read the Health & Safety data sheet (MSDS) covering off the Tecbond grade prior to use. More information on safety practice can be found here.

The information contained on this data sheet is for guidance only. It is the result of careful laboratory evaluations by trained and qualified staff using British Standard or similar test methods. However, no warranty is expressed or implied regarding the accuracy of the data or the suitability of the adhesive for any specific purpose. In every case, we strongly recommend that the user shall make their own test to determine to their own satisfaction the suitability of the adhesive for their particular purpose. Neither seller nor manufacturer shall be liable for any injury, loss, damage, direct or consequential arising out of the use or inability to use the product. Further information is always available to help solve your adhesive problems.

Further related information:

Should you require any further information on our adhesives or applicators please contact our sales office on 0161 627 1001 or email:

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