Fletco introduces the new Life Balance Seal, its approach to environmental awareness and health-conscious matters, developed in co-operation with leading German testing institutes.
Fletco products are suitable for allergy sufferers and currently carry a corresponding certification. Marked with the new Life Balance Seal, Fletco products will meet the strict standards regarding allergy and asthma as a minimum, yet the new label is also a stamp of the company’s attitudes towards and dedication to creating products engineered to provide a healthier, greener environment.
What is Life Balance?
Life Balance is more than just a seal; it is proof of the commitment of manufacturers of sustainable products, who have undergone comprehensive quality control by an external body.. Behind the GUI test number, you will find the test results that have been measured and evaluated, according to the latest knowledge within the field of science and technology.
Health requirements must be stated up-front in connection with this:
• The suitability for allergy sufferers must be stated
• No harmful substances may be present in the product
• Unhealthy fine dust must be bound in the product, in order to improve the indoor air significantly.
Why choose products with a Life Balance Seal?
Products with a Life Balance Seal provide documentation of the user´s safety, because the essential aspects that can affect the health and well-being in such products have been tested neutrally.
People are confronted on a daily basis with allergens, dust and harmful substances. Products with the Life Balance Seal make it easier for people to choose products which are free of these substances.
What is fine dust?
Dust is a very complex physicochemical mixture.
Fine dust refers to all dust particles, which are smaller than 10 micrometers. They can, therefore, be difficult to detect with the naked eye.
What are the sources of fine dust?
We differentiate the outdoor air from the indoor air by their respective sources, which vary considerably.
Fine dust in the outdoor air consists mainly of soot, (tires-) abrasion, geological material (e.g. sand, volcanic ash) and biological material (e.g. pollens, moulds). Dust originates from the Earth itself, road, rail and air transport, trade and industry as well as agriculture and forestry, and from production and combustion processes as well as abrasion and whirling up due to mechanical processes.
Indoors, however, dust consists primarily of the type of dust mentioned above as well as substances that normally come only from the indoor environment. These are, for example, biological components such as dander, moulds and their spores, dust mite allergen from dried mite faeces, pet dander and allergens, as well as tobacco smoke, and textile abrasion in the form of fibres and threads.
Why is fine dust so dangerous?
Fine dust in the outdoor air is currently a much debated topic. However, the quality of the indoor air is often overlooked in this connection. But it is especially in this environment that people spend about 90% of their lifetime.
Due to their minute size, fine dust particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory irritation. This applies not only to allergy sufferers, but also to healthy people. Regardless of the type of dust inhaled, the particles are irritating, when they penetrate the airways. For allergy sufferers this effect is magnified.
Moreover, we find other substances attached to the dust particles, such as allergens and harmful substances that penetrate deep into the lungs and can cause similar reactions.
For example, studies from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that the life expectancy of people is reduced by approx. 9 months by the presence of fine dust.
Meanwhile, studies have been presented regarding the presence of fine dust in the indoor air of selected interior areas. For example, the Public Health Centre in Frankfurt and the National Office for Industrial Safety, Health Protection and Technical Security in Berlin have determined that a health risk can be presumed to exist in school classrooms due to the high quantity of fine dust that has been measured here.
Another highly regarded study by the German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB) carried out in 100 households in Nordrhein-Westfalen showed that the concentrations of fine dust in homes with smooth floors was on average was twice as high (62.9 g / m³) than in homes with carpets (30.4 ug / m³). The limit for dust in the air outdoors is 50 g / m³.
How are the products tested?
The basis for the measurement and evaluation is stated in the VDI 602, Cchapter 5 “Avoidance of Aallergenic Eexposure” from the Union of German Engineers.
Tests are carried out in emission chambers in accordance with the German AgBB scheme for the evaluation of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VVOC, VOC and SVOC) from building products. The requirements of the test must all be fulfilled.
The product is also tested for its possible sensitizing potential. It is also checked immunologically in its new state and after a simulated use. In this connection, standardized fluids, similar to body fluids, are used in the form of acid perspiration solutions and artificial spittle in order to achieve a realistic examination environment.
No biological activity must be present during testing.
To determine the capacity of binding dust, the products are tested with a defined quantity of fine dust in test chambers and compared to the results from the same tests carried out on a smooth floor. The test is divided into three phases, namely the dust generation, the sedimentations phase and simulated use.
In the dust generating phase, a test dust of the finest particles available from conventional house dust is selected. This dust is blown into a standardized fume cupboard, at defined times and in defined amounts.
After a specified amount of time, the concentration of fine dust is measured in the fume cupboard to determine how many fine dust particles have not fallen to the floor covering. To obtain the Life Balance Seal, the concentration of fine dust must not exceed the limit value for outdoor air.
During the simulation, a defined turbulence is generated in the fume cupboard. This enables the concentration of fine dust in the indoor air to be measured constantly. This is carried out for both textile floor covering and smooth floor coverings, and the results are compared. To achieve the Life Balance Seal, the product must show a dust-binding capacity of equivalent to 20% or better. This means that the product binds at least 20% more dust, that is then not present in the indoor air, than the comparative floor with a smooth surface.
Which products have the Life Balance Seal?
Currently only selected carpets from the Danish company Fletco and the German company Vorwerk have this seal.
Other product groups are currently in the test phase, such as vacuum cleaners and air purifiers.