The German VOC regulation on construction products: ABG, AgBB, DIBt, abZ
Germany has specifications of maximum acceptable VOC emissions from construction products into indoor air in buildings. The background to this is the EU Construction Products Regulation, requiring that no construction product should cause any harm to the occupants of a building. As the EU did not specifically detail this requirement, national regulations may interpret this in different manners.
A German task force of public health authorities, the AgBB, presented an approach for implementing this part of the EU regulation in its AgBB specifications. A comparison with limits in other countries can be seen at www.eurofins.com/lci-cli-nik-crel, and a summary of European regulations at www.eurofins.com/eu-voc-limits.
German regulation and its changes
German DIBt agency took these requirements, added some of their own requirements, and established a system of approval of construction products before entry into the German market.
- After a decision of the European Court, this can no longer be applied to products that subject to CE marked, meaning for which a harmonized EN standard exists. Please read our special page where we explain the transition period.
- For other products, meaning those for which no harmonized EN standard exists and therefore CE marking is not possible, the DIBt approval scheme will continue to be required, if it was applied before. DIBt may also add more products to the scope of its regulation.
- You are not sure whether your product follows a harmonized EN standard and thus can be CE marked? Then please look into the list of harmonized standards (as of November 2015).
ABG - rules after the EU court decision
The German ABG regulation is planned to be in force in October 2016 for both kinds of products, on the basis of a modified model building regulation ("Musterbauordnung") on the Federal level and in the States (Länder). The draft of that modified regulation (in German) was notified to the EU Commission on 18 May 2016. Other EU Member States can comment during 3 months, and it is expected that the modified regulation can be set in force in the German federal states (the "Länder") from autumn 2016 on. The individual states will decide when they will set this into force.
The construction regulation is amended by an ordinance "Verwaltungsvorschrift Technische Baubestimmungen (VV TB)" that indicates for which products there will be requested what additional documentation in Germany. This ordinance superseeds the earlier "Bauregellisten". The link leads to a draft document that was notified to the EU Commission on 21 July 2016 with the notification number 2016/0376/D. Other EU Member States can comment during 3 months, and it is expected that the modified regulation can be set in force in the German federal states (the "Länder") from 25 October 2016 on. The individual states will decide when they will set this into force.
The ABG regulation is targeted at indoor air quality and health in buildings. The ABG regulation gives specifications of a set of construction products that show low VOC emissions, and that are free of a number of hazardous ingredients. It says that regulated construction products have to prove that the specified air quality targets can be achieved if these products are used in regularly occupied rooms and in connected rooms. The limit values are mostly the same as under the DIBt regulation. The list of limit values forms a part of the ABG regulation.
Proof of compliance with the draft regulation depends on which set of regulations applies:
- Products that still can be DIBt approved must show compliance by being labelled with the Ü mark, and by showing the certificate of conformity upon request.
- Products that no longer can be DIBt approved can show compliance by other means, where details are not yet specified.
- DIBt recommends showing a valid abZ approval as proof of compliance that is under annual surveillance until its maximum validity. Maximum possible validity of an abZ is April 2020.
- Many manufacturers are using this possibility. They plan to use their valid abZ as a marketing argument against competing products without an abZ.
- New products no longer have this possibility.
- This unequal treatment of old and new products will give severe problems, but nevertheless these are the present plans of the German authorities.
- Other programs will need to be accepted as well.
- The Eurofins operated Indoor Air Comfort certification program can be a good choice for that purpose.
The Ü mark MUST NOT BE affixed to products and packaging carrying a CE mark after 15 October 2016.
Please see our special page where we explain the transition period between old and new German regulation.
Please read more:
- Details of the new German ABG regulation.
As of July 2016, only drafts exist. For further developments please follow our VOC Blog.
We also explain the transition period between old and new German regulation, and we give some recommendations.
- The AgBB specifications.
- The DIBt approval system.
- The Ü mark. Please note:
An Ü mark MUST NOT BE affixed to any product that carries a CE mark after 15 October 2016!
- Testing programs that include the German and the other European requirements:
- A product certification that includes the German and the other European requirements, adding annual surveillance (factory inspections and re-testing):
Such a certification program allows to use test results of one product for a whole group of similar products on a reliable basis. And it increases the credibility of low VOC statements with its surveillance program.
Eurofins VOC related services
Eurofins offers documentation of compliance with the specifications on emissions of VOC and aldehydes by independent and ISO 17025 accredited testing, and if relevant also with external surveillance (inspections, re-testing), and certification, e.g. in combination with the Eurofins operated certification programme Indoor Air Comfort - certified products.
Eurofins operates both an accredited and notified test house and an approved ÜZ certification body. VOC emissions testing for any program or regulation can be easily combined with tests for other regulations or labels such as Belgian VOC regulation, French VOC regulations, German VOC regulations, EMICODE, German Blue Angel, Finnish M1 and US tests. Such combinations allow to save money compared with separate testing for each of these purposes.
Certification and testing services for Ü mark, CE mark and the Eurofins certification program Indoor Air Comfort - certified products can be ordered in parallel for use on different market segments - there will be significant costs saving when compared to ordering these services separately.
Contact to surveillance and testing services
- Surveillance and Certification body:
(also DIBt approved surveillance and certification body)
- Testing lab:
(also DIBt approved testing body, and accredited as well as notified testing lab)
Smedeskovvej 38, 8464 Galten, Denmark
Phone: +45 7022 4276
Contact to VOC Testing Laboratories
Please see here contact information of Eurofins VOC testing laboratories in Europe, China and Japan: