Why healthy living is so important
Environmental toxins are everywhere in the air. Most people are aware of this when it comes to fine dust or other harmful emissions in cities. Many are, however, unaware to what extent the selection of home furniture affects the air quality in their own home and thus their own health.
Particularly pieces of furniture that are made of substandard or health-damaging materials or for which certain adhesives are used, often emit pollutants for years to come. This is especially problematic for furniture items situated e. g. in a child’s bedroom. Therefore, in the future, watch out for furniture with the quality mark “Golden M”.
What does healthy living have to do with the quality mark “Golden M”
The Deutsche Gütegemeinschaft Möbel e.V. (DGM) is committed to the issue of healthy living because the “human quality” plays an important role for the DGM and its members. This includes avoiding negative health effects of furniture and its basic materials as well as ensuring the environmental compatibility of the entire production process. Only pieces of furniture that comply with these criteria will receive the quality mark “Golden M”.
Which tests do furniture items have to undergo to receive the “Golden M”?
Before a piece of furniture is awarded the RAL quality mark “Golden M”, it needs to undergo a series of tests. During these tests, experts from neutral testing institutes that comply with the guidelines of RAL-GZ 430 examine not only the stability, strength, processing, functionality and safety of the furniture items but also their pollutant content and emission.
Which pollutants are tested?
Neutral testing institutes that comply with the guidelines of RAL-GZ 430 test the furniture with regard to various substances that could be detrimental to the health of users. The DGM interprets many limit values stricter than actually required by law. This aims to ensure that even persons who are particularly sensitive to certain substances will not encounter any problems with the certified furniture items and can therefore buy them for their home without hesitation.
The list of substances that the experts search for is long: formaldehyde, residual solvents / volatile compounds such as alkanes, esters, aromatic hydrocarbons, terpenes, ketones etc. as well as biocides, lindane, pyrethroids, azodyes, CFCs, heavy metals or flame retardants. For some of these substances, the Deutsche Gütegemeinschaft Möbel e.V. set a lower value for the maximum allowed amount than the Federal Ministry of Health.
According to the DGM, formaldehyde for example must not exceed 0.05 ppm (parts per million); the legal limit of 0.1 ppm allows for twice this amount. During the revision of the RAL Quality and Testing Regulations, the working group “Environment and Health” lowered this value for the maximum allowed amount of formaldehyde as well as for some other substances.
What do certified furniture manufacturers need to take into account for the production of environmentally friendly furniture?
Manufacturers and suppliers who are members of the DGM (founded in 1963) have committed to meet the relevant conditions for the manufacturing of their products. The requirements are stipulated in the test catalogue RAL-GZ 430 – for healthy living with the quality mark “Golden M”.
In order for furniture items to be awarded the RAL quality mark, the entire production process must be environmentally friendly and pose no health risks. This means wood and wood-based materials that are used for furniture must not have been treated preventively with biocidal wood preservatives.
Furniture items emitting a noticeable or uncharacteristic odour are not only tested for pollutants but also for odour emission. Even though such an odour does not necessarily indicate a health hazard for the users of the furniture item, the enjoyment of the furniture item can be dampened if the consumers are bothered by a “strange” odour. This may lead to the fact that the consumer considers the piece of furniture unsuitable even though it is of high quality.
During the furniture production, the manufacturers must avoid using any processes and/or materials with negative environmental or health impacts. The consumption of resources including the energy needed as well as development and construction, packaging, transportation, usage, disposal and/or recycling and of course the entire production of the furniture must be based on ecological considerations.
Who do the prerequisites for the awarding of the “Golden M” need to be coordinated with?
The prerequisites for the awarding of the “Golden M” were developed in close cooperation with the German Federal Environment Agency and leading, independent testing institutes. They correspond to the latest scientific findings and are continuously revised.
Where can I find furniture for “healthy living”?
Many furniture manufacturers have already committed to the principles of the DGM “Golden M” quality mark. You can find the list of manufacturers of these member firms as well as further details on these companies and sources of supply on our website.
Furniture that has been awarded the “Golden M” for healthy living can be purchased in furniture stores and on the internet. However, furniture items tested accordingly are not always clearly labelled with the “Golden M”. You should therefore specifically ask for furniture labelled with the quality mark “Golden M” when purchasing furniture in a retail shop or when ordering online.
Living healthy with furniture with the “Golden M” – this is why the purchase is worth it!
If you buy pieces of furniture labelled with the “Golden M” of the DGM, you can be certain that they are not only of high quality but also that their ingredients pose no health hazard. And in terms of sustainability, you will make a valuable contribution when purchasing furniture that has been approved this way. “The Golden M” helps you select furniture in which you can trust and which you will be able to enjoy in every way for many years to come.
Quality and testing regulations for furniture - excerpt from the RAL-GZ 430 regulations
Allgemeiner Teil - Schutz von Umwelt und Gesundheit: PDF Download