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Details of German ABG regulation on construction products

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DIBt provided a draft of the German ABG requirements on low emitting construction products on 6 January 2016. In the mean time an updated draft of the ABG regulation was notified to the EU for commenting with the notification number 2016/0376/D since July 2016 (in German language), see pages 231-244 of the draft of an ordinance "Verwaltungsvorschrift Technische Baubestimmungen (VV TB)". There were no changes regarding VOC emissions compared to the second draft.

The new AGB regulation which has been developed on the basis of a modified model building regulation (a recent draft was published in March 2016) is intended to be set in force in October 2016. It is targeted at indoor air quality and health in buildings. The regulation gives specifications of products that show low VOC emissions, and it limits a number of hazardous ingredients. 

The essentials of the draft are:

  • It describes the requirements for healthy buildings that German authorities can require.
  • It is a general document that will be substantiated for specific product groups in later publications.
Concerned products
  • The ABG draft of 18 March 2016 includes all construction products used in regularly occupied rooms ("Aufenthaltsräume") that contain significant portions of organic nature and that therefore have a disposition to release volatile organic compounds.
  • These products are specifically mentioned:
    • Floor coverings, incl. floor coatings, screeds and mortars made of synthetic resin, artificial stone made of plastic, sport floorings - but except mineral ceramic flooring,
    • Flooring adhesives and adhesives for compound structures,
    • Underlays,
    • Coatings for wood floorings and for resilient floorings,
    • Decorative wall coverings made of plastic,
    • Ceiling coverings and constructions with significant portions of organic nature,
    • Insulation material with significant portions of organic nature, e.g. in-situ foams based on phenol resin or on urea-formaldehyde,
    • Treated or glued wood,
    • Fire protective coatings, for steel construction, or on-site applied.
  • Expressively excluded are, as long as requirements on radioactivity are not of concern:
    • Products purely or mainly on mineral basis, such as concrete, cement, bricks, ceramics.
    • Non-coated metallic construction products.
    • Untreated wood.
    • Products made of glass.
Ingredients
  • Hazardous ingredients shall be avoided. Carcinogens of EU classes C1A and C1B are restricted, except if they do not cause any risk to the users of the building. Therefore their emissions are limited with very stringent limit values.
  • Requirements regarding contaminated waste are supplemented.
  • Limits for content of PAH (5 mg/kg BaP), nitrosamines (11 µg/kg), and PCP (5 mg/kg) are specified.
Emissions
  • The ABG regulation includes requirements regarding low VOC emissions from construction products. Such products need 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 emissions requirements of AgBB 2015 are included, and supplemented by requirements on emissions of ammonia (0.1 mg/m³) and of nitrosamines (0.2 µg/m³), as far as relevant. The list of limit values forms a part of the ABG regulation.
    For the AgBB 2015 requirements, see a table here: www.eurofins.com/agbb2015-limits.
Assessment
  • In this document, there are no requirements regarding the manner how fulfillment of these requirements shall be documented and proved. This shall be regulated in product specific Technical Rules. A draft Technical Rule regarding textile floorings (TR TB) was made available for comments in March 2016 as a first example, see our special webpage.

For further information, please see our homepage, e.g. www.eurofins.com/voc-germany, and follow our VOC Blog for any updates.

Please note:

  • 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 be accepted as well.
    • The Eurofins operated Indoor Air Comfort certification program is a good choice for that purpose.
  • Please see our special page where we explain the transition period between old and new German regulation.

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 regulationFrench VOC regulationsGerman VOC regulationsEMICODE, 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 markCE 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)
Eurofins Consumer Product Testing GmbH
Am Neuländer Gewerbepark 4
21079 Hamburg, Germany
Phone: +49 40 492 94 6815
Email UZ-certification@eurofins.com
.
  • Testing lab:
    (also DIBt approved testing body, and accredited as well as notified testing lab)
Eurofins Product Testing A/S
Smedeskovvej 38, 8464 Galten, Denmark
Phone: +45 7022 4276
Email voc@eurofins.com

Contact to VOC Testing Laboratories

Please see here contact information of Eurofins VOC testing laboratories in Europe, China and Japan:
www.eurofins.com/voc-contacts.