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Oeko-Tex adopts new standards for testing harmful substances
14
Jan '09
The Oeko-Tex Association has adapted the requirements of the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 for testing textiles for harmful substances effective 1 January 2009. This routine update is based on continual monitoring of the market and consideration for changes in legal standards. All limit values and test criteria of the Oeko-Tex certification system will from now on be expressed in the unit of measurement "mg/kg" rather than "ppm" (parts per million).

As a result, future possible confusion between the unit measures of volume "µl/l" or "mg/m3" can be avoided and the new units more easily compared with standards named in other inventories of harmful substances. In connection with the REACH-rating of decaBDE (decabromodiphenyl ether) and HBCDD (hexabromocyclododecane) as SVHCs (Substances of Very High Concern), these chemicals have been explicitly included in the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 inventory of banned flame retardant substances.

Explicitly, because their use has been prohibited for a long time by the existing regulations for flame retardants in the Oeko-Tex product classes I, II and III. The same is true for the less than or equal to 0.1% by mass content limit for the problematic phthalates DEHP (Di-(2-ethylhexyl)-phthalate), BBP (butyl benzyl phthalate), and DBP (dibutyl phthalate) already existing for Oeko-Tex Product classes I and II.

Due to their inclusion in the REACH-candidate list of Substances of Very High Concern this limit will be extended immediately to Product class III (garments worn away from the skin) and Product class IV (materials for interior decorating and decorative purposes), too. In the new version of the Oeko-Tex criteria catalogue, the existing heavy metal tests based on evaluation with a solution of synthetic perspiration have been added by the total breakdown of both lead and cadmium.

As a result it is now possible to test textile items in which these heavy metals are bound into a massive matrix and therefore can not be exactly detected in the presence of a solution of perspiration: for example, top coat paints and lacquers used on toys, where ageing and mechanical wear and tear can cause paints that contain lead and cadmium to break into flakes that could be swallowed by children.

The basis for the inclusion of both of these testing criteria with respect to textiles and toys are the massive claims and recalls carried out last year on the US market and the corresponding standards for harmful substances formulated by the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

Also new in the Oeko-Tex criteria catalogue are tests for perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA). Because the European authorities are still currently formulating generally accepted testing methods within the scope of a CEN working group, the authorised testing institutes of the Oeko-Tex Association will for the time being continue to use the methods they have developed to detect numerous individual substances that have been classified as PFOS.

By including the current additions to the catalogue of criteria, the Oeko-Tex Standard is strengthening its role as the internationally leading label for textiles that have been tested for harmful substances. Click here to get an overview of the actual Oeko-Tex testing criteria and limit values.

Oeko-Tex Association

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