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 ethos 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 a commitment of manufacturers of sustainable products, that have externally been subject to a comprehensive quality control. 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.
In this connection, the health aspects come to the front:
• The suitability for allergy sufferers must be stated
• No presence of any harmful substances in the product
• Unhealthy fine dust must be bound in the product, in order to improve the indoor air significantly.
Why choose products with Life Balance seal?
Products with Life Balance seal secure a safety for the user, because the essential aspects that can affect the health and well-being in such products have been tested neutrally.
People are confronted daily with allergens, dust and harmful substances. Products with the Life Balance seal makes it easier for people to choose products free from 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 on their respective sources, which are very different.
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, molds). The dust created by the Earth itself, road, rail and air transport, trade and industry as well as agriculture and forestry, with production and combustion processes as well as abrasion and whirling up due to mechanical processes.
In the interior, however, the dust consists mainly of the dust mentioned above and, secondly, from typical substances that come only from the living environment. These are, for example, biological components such as dander, molds 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 fibers 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 small size, fine dust particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and cause respiratory irritation. This goes not only for allergy sufferers, but also for healthy people. Regardless of the type of dust inhaled, the particles are irritating, when they are found in the airways. For allergy sufferers this effect is even stronger.
Moreover, we find other substances attached to the dust particles, such as allergens and harmful substances that reach 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 would be reduced up to 9 months by 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 Center in Frankfurt and the National Office for Industrial Safety, Health Protection and Technical Security in Berlin have determined that a health risk due to the high quantity of fine dust measured in the classrooms may be suspected.
Another highly regarded study by the German Allergy and Asthma Association (DAAB) made in 100 households in Nordrhein-Westfalen showed that the concentrations of fine dust in homes with smooth floors 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 outside air is 50 g / m³.
How are the products tested?
The basis for the measurement and evaluation is stated in the VDI 602, chapter 5 "Avoidance of allergenic exposure" 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.
Also, the product is tested for a possible sensitizing potential. It is also checked immunologically in its new state and after a simulated use. In this connection, standardized body similar 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 as possible from conventional house dust is selected. This test dust is defined, blown into a standardized test chamber.
After a certain time, the concentration of fine dust is measured in the test chamber; in order to determine how many fine dust particles that have not fallen to the floor covering. To obtain the Life Balance seal, the concentration of fine dust must not exceed the limit for outside air.
During the simulated use, a defined turbulence is generated in the test chamber. In this way, the fine dust concentration is constantly determined in the indoor air. 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 capacity of binding dust equal to 20% or better. This means that the product binds at least 20% more dust, that is therefore kept away from 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 has this seal.
Other product groups are currently in the test phase, such as vacuum cleaners and air purifiers.