Furniture, textile and mattresses containing PVC, phtalates or brominated flame retardants could be labelled as environmentally friendly products according to the new draft of rules for ecobrands which was submitted by the European Commission. Ecological organization Arnika called upon minister of the environment RNDr. Martin Bursík to countervote this draft. The vote will take place tomorrow - on April 23rd and on 24th at the meeting in Brusseles. „ Drafts which will be voted on undermine trustworthiness of the whole system of eco-brands for products and apparently pressure of the chemical industry, which attempts to maintain detrimental substances as brominated and chlorinated flame retardants or problematic plastic PVC, is still highly influential,“ says Arnika in its letter to minister.
„If products containing PVC, phtalates and brominated flame retardants could be labelled as ´environmentally friendly´, it would ridicule results of number of academic studies proving that these substances are at least problematic or even detrimental to the environment and health of people. At the same time, it would be a sheer degradation of this label,“ commented on the draft head of the program Toxic Substances and Wastes RNDr. Jindřich Petrlík
„Production, usage and liquidation of PVC are connected with escapes of toxic substances. Presence of chlorine in this plastic makes it highly problematic in terms of impacts on the environment, likewise as with halogenide solvent, which are proposed by the Commission to be tolerated in paints of environmentally friendly products,“ clarified Ing. Miroslava Jopková head of the campaign Do not play with PVC, who is co-author of Arnika´s letter to minister Bursík.
Toxic phtalates, although banned in toys for children and in objects designed for care for them, are still present in other products and are released into the air from softened PVC inside flats and offices. Brominated and chlorinated flames retardants are often released from other equipment, textile and mattresses included.
Toxic phtalates and above mentioned flames retardants accumulate in dust, which can seriously harm small children moving in such areas. These substances in dust of Czech offices were found in a study published by Arnika in 2006. In the office of minister Bursík were found no phtalates, because the PVC products were avoided when it was equipped. Though dust in the office contained enough brominated flame retardants and one from chlorinated flame retardants. He himself then could see how dangerous it is to use these substances for indoor equipment of flats and offices. An even worse scenario would be if these products could be labelled as environmentally friendly,“ closed up Petrlík.
Arnika´s activities in this project were supported by grant provided by Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and by the EEC Financial Mechanism and Norwegian Financial Mechanism by NROS (Foundation for Development of Civil Society) and by grant of the Prague City Hall.
(1) Considers revision of criteria for ecological label certification for bed mattresses, furniture, textiles. Original criteria are part of the Commission´s decision 98/634/CE. European Union Eco-labelling Board - EUEB will be deciding on these at the meeting.
(2) Appart from brominated flames retardants PBDE (polybrominated difenylether) also chlorinated flame retardant was found in the dust, added into paints, plasters of plastics or foam insulation. Specifically it concerns substance tri (chlorisopropyl) - TCPP.