Building Products

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Substances in building products hazardous to environment and health
Source: photo 5000 /

Products used in construction contain many organic and inorganic substances. If they are released into the indoor air of buildings, or into the soil and groundwater, they can pose a risk to the environment and human health. Sofar these inputs of contaminants from building products have been quantified only sporadically.

Building products contain various substances that are hazardous to the environment and health. They are present e.g. as solvents in varnishes and adhesives, as biocides in building facades, as plasticisers, binders or as fire retardants in floor and wall coverings. Plastics and wood-based materials, mineral building materials and roofing materials can also contain undesirable substances. Substances which have already been banned may also be included as a result of recycling. Up to today it is not standard procedure to evaluate whether a product releases contaminants prior to marketing. However, consumers have a right to information about whether building products contain Substances of Very High Concern in concentrations of more than 0.1 per cent. In fact, this information has become an obligatory feature on building products with CE marking since 1 July 2013.

The German Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) lends support to the development and utilisation of building products that are low in emissions and pollutants by:

  • Establishing criteria for health-related evaluation of emissions from building products
  • Labelling of low-emission building products bearing the Blue Angel eco-label
  • Supporting the initiative to harmonise the health-based evaluation of emissions from building products in the EU
  • Initiatives to promote a high level of environmental and health protection in the implementation of the EC Construction Products Regulation
  • Promoting the evaluation of odours from building products
  • Testing for pollutant emissions from building products
  • Making proposals on how to formulate the environmental product declaration on building products
  • Providing templates of mandatory identification of Substances of Very High Concern in building products.