13. February 2024

Construction products, floor coverings and furniture are the most common sources of indoor pollutants. However, there are no legal limits for the various pollutants and manufacturing companies are not obliged to have their products tested for chemicals of concern. However, the current case of the harmful softener mono-n-hexyl phthalate (MnHexP), which the North Rhine-Westphalia State Agency for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection (LANUV) detected in elevated concentrations in children’s urine samples, shows just how important regular pollutant checks are. Softeners are substances that make materials soft and malleable and improve their functional properties. They are mainly used in plastics, but also in paints/varnishes, adhesives and rubber products.

eco-INSTITUT is fundamentally critical when it comes to softeners that, like MnHexP, come from the widespread group of phthalates and terephthalates. Some of these substances are considered to be toxic to reproduction or are suspected of being carcinogenic. They are therefore not permitted in products bearing the eco-INSTITUT-Label – the company’s own quality mark for indoor products. Their use is excluded from the test criteria and is also checked as part of the regular laboratory tests. For precautionary reasons, eco-INSTITUT also does not accept substitute plasticisers such as DEHT or DINCH, which are not classified as toxic to reproduction and are therefore increasingly being used by the industry as a substitute for harmful phthalates. At least every two years, certified products are subjected to extensive laboratory testing, which includes VOC emissions, ingredients – such as plasticisers – and an odour test.

Further infos on softeners you find in our eco blog post  eco-Blog-Beitrag „Schadstoff-Steckbrief: „Weichmacher“ (German only)

Further infos on the current softener case of LANUV you find in the press release here (German only) and a Q&A on the site of the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt – UBA) here (German only)

Image: freepik & eco-INSTITUT Germany GmbH


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