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The Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 is an independent testing and certification system for textile raw materials, intermediates, and end products. It provides a globally uniform standard for companies within the textile and clothing industry to assess potentially harmful substances in textile products, and provides consumers with a product label to indicate that the certified textile does not contain substances at a concentration that could be hazardous to human health. Retailers and consumers can access a database that enables them to search for certified products by name, company, and brand name.
The Oeko-Tex® label can be used by manufacturers on products or product groups as long as it has been demonstrated with extensive laboratory tests that all components, including accessories, comply with the specified test criteria. The laboratory tests currently comprise around 100 test parameters and are based on international test standards and other recognized testing procedures. These also include simulation tests, which take into account all ways by which harmful substances could be absorbed into the human body (orally, via the skin, or by inhalation).
Harmful substances that are tested for include: substances which are prohibited by law, such as carcinogenic dyestuffs; substances which are regulated by law, such as formaldehyde; substances which are not yet regulated or prohibited by law but current knowledge determines they are harmful to health, such as pesticides; and other parameters such as colorfastness and a skin-friendly pH-value.
A textile product is placed in one of the four Oeko-Tex® product classes based on its intended use:
The greater the contact with the skin, the more stringent the requirements.
Manufacturers must apply for certification with the following information: a description of the products to be tested; details of the stages of processing carried out to manufacture the textile; list of all dyestuffs and auxiliaries used; safety data sheets for finishing agents; and copies of certificates for already certified source materials. The application is submitted to the test institute together with representative test samples of the textile product (or accessory). A company audit and declaration of conformity are also required.
Certification renewal is required annually, and companies must be audited every three years.
Certification costs consist of the licensing fee, costs for company audits by the commissioned testing institute, as well as lab costs (depending on testing requirements). An annual certification ranges from approximately $1,100 for an "easy" case to $21,000 for complex cases. An estimate can be obtained from an accredited certifying institute.
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