News: Better Indoor Air Quality – Can the EU Ecolabel help?
A Royal College of Physicians report "Every breath we take: the lifelong impact of air pollution" highlights an often neglected source of air pollution – our indoor spaces; Paul Vaughan, UKED.
Tuesday, 26th April 2016
EU Ecolabel products help reduce indoor air pollution
Many commonplace products we use in our houses and work places can cause poor air quality. Health problems resulting from exposure to air pollution have a high cost to people who suffer from illness, to our health services and businesses. The Royal College of Physicians report specifically mentions the following air pollutants:
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs). VOCs are found in everything from paints to cleaning products. They start off as solids or liquids, but readily evaporate. Breathing low levels of VOCs for long periods of time may increase some people's risk of health problems. VOCs can include, terpenes associated with fragrances; hydrocarbons, glycols, and glycol ethers associated with solvents; and chlorinated hydrocarbons associated with spot cleaners, degreasers and disinfectants.
- Formaldehyde vapour is a colourless gas with a pungent, irritating odour used in the production of resins acting as glues for wood products, pulp and paper. It is also found in some plastics, coatings, paints and varnishes, and in textile finishings and can cause irritation of the lungs.
How does EU Ecolabel reduce these sources of pollutants?
A product awarded the EU Ecolabel performs as well as any other product on the market, but has a reduced impact on the environment over its whole life cycle. It is only awarded to the best environmentally performing products on the market and compliance has to be proved against a set of tough criteria by independent assessors.
For a cleaning product to be awarded the EU Ecolabel, it has to meet 11 criteria including fitness for use. VOCs are limited to a maximum of 6 % (by weight) and formaldehyde is excluded completely. Other criteria restrict any ingredient that is classified as having the potential to cause an allergy, asthma, or breathing difficulties if inhaled.
The EU Ecolabel, denoted by the Flower logo, was founded in 1992 and is designed to help us make the right environmental choices. As well as cleaning products, the scheme has sets of criteria to deal with the environmental impacts of other common household products, such as soaps, shampoos, body washes, furniture and paints. Products bearing the Flower logo can be found across Europe, including the UK.