IHO - Der Verband


Cleaning and disinfecting products are no sources of microplastics.

UBA study is flawed and unsound

IHO position on the publication of the nova expert opinion on “Sources of microplastics relevant to marine protection in Germany” by the German Federal Environment Agency (UBA)

The UBA published the above study which looked into the sources for the release of microplastic particles in the marine environment – due to the use of microplastic particles as constituents of formulations in commercial products.

This included an examination of the situation for commercial cleaning and disinfecting products. The authors conducted telephone interviews, inter alia, with the IHO. From the IHO’s perspective, the presentation of the results can only be described as flawed and unsound.

Particles from polyethylene waxes are not used in water-based floor care products. These products contain emulsions of acrylate with minor admixtures of pressure emulsions from polyethylene waxes. Emulsified waxes serve to provide slip resis­tance and for the sliding properties of the applied care agents. According to the leading German manufacturers, these polyethylene pressure emulsions do not contain micro-particles.

The above is countered by a technical article on polyethylene waxes from cosmetics, and that article is wrongly called a scientific study.

Next, the 10 tonnes of emulsified ethylene wax – as calculated by the IHO – become under 100 tonnes of micro-particles in the UBA summary.

Own research activities on the use of floor care products (as mentioned in the study) and the description of use are both based on IHO statements. It is only added that it is unclear how these particles (which have been no longer available in this state for quite a while) can be filtered from waste water – or not.

This stands in contradiction to the statement by manufacturers who confirm in the safety data sheet that the pressure emulsions can be eliminated. Another counter-argument is provided in tests by an IHO member company. After removing the care films by application of a basic cleaner, this company performed Zahn-Wellens testing

with the obtained solution and also found that elimination was possible in such testing.

Against this backdrop, the IHO keeps up its position that cleaning and disinfecting products are no sources of primary microplastic.

The chemical processing of the original polyethylene waxes into pressure emulsions, their adding to care products as minor constituents, the application of these care products on floors, drying in the form of a polymer matrix (comparable with dispersion colours) and the subsequent removal using basic cleaners and mechanical methods result in the fact that waste waters channelled into sewage plants cannot be connected in any way with the original polyethylene waxes as granulate.

signed: Dr. H. Faubel

Working translation for information purposes / Original: German (2015-11-11)

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