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Carpet and Rug Institute Criticizes Green Seal's GS-37 Standard

January 2009 - Green

green seal, cri, carpet


The Carpet and Rug Institute has announced it will no longer recognize GreenSeal's GS-37 Standard as a Green Certification for its Seal of Approval Carpet Cleaning Solutions, saying that the process used to develop the environmental standard was flawed.

The revised version of GS-37 was released in September.

“The primary goal of the GS-37 revision - the fourth revision since GS-37’s original release in 2000 - is to ensure that it continues to represent an environmental leadership standard in the marketplace and, vitally, to incorporate criteria that fully protects human health, including that of
children and custodial workers,” Arthur Weissman, , president and CEO of Green Seal said at the time.

GS-37 establishes environmental requirements for institutional and industrial general-purpose, restroom, glass, and carpet cleaners; products intended for routine cleaning of offices, institutions, warehouses, and industrial facilities. The revised standard criteria emphasize consideration of vulnerable populations in institutional settings such as schools, day-care facilities, nursing homes, and other facilities.

But according to CRI, Green Seal failed to follow its own written guidelines for consensus standard-setting, specifically in the areas of stakeholder input and risk assessment. "GS 37 is flawed and CRI cannot support it," said CRI president Werner

Prior to its decision, CRI had accepted GS 37 as a component for its Seal of Approval Green designation, which identifies spot cleaners, pre-sprays, and in-tank cleaning solutions that are environmentally responsible as well as effective. CRI continues to recognize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Design for the Environment (DfE) certification, as well as the Canadian government's EcoLogo and EnviroDesic certifications. Products that were certified under a previous version of GS 37 will retain their SOA Green designations, Braun said.

CRI's concerns:

• GS 37 measures product efficacy against a "nationally recognized" product rather than against an approved standard.
• GreenSeal did not allow the participation of all stakeholders in the development process for GS 37
• GS 37 arbitrarily bans chemicals according to a list, without regard for proper risk assessment - a practice which runs contrary to accepted scientific practices.
• At various points, it seemed that peer- reviewed scientific data was discounted in favor of preconceived bias on the part of the standard developers.
• GS 37 was released without a second ratifying ballot, even after a first ballot failed to achieve a majority.

Noting that Green Seal is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as a standard-setting body, Braun said he would expect the company to follow the ANSI process of standard development. He added that CRI would reconsider its decision if Green Seal were to "reopen the GS 37 standard and develop it in an environment that respects the consensus standard-setting process."

Green Seal said that many expert sources assisted throughout the technical development of the standard, including: the University of Tennessee Center for Clean Products and Clean Technologies; GREENGUARD Environmental Institute; the Division of Environmental Health Assessment for the New York State Dept. of Health; the Occupational Health Surveillance Program for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health; the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Division of Respiratory Disease Studies; the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health at the University of Texas Health Center at Tyler; and product development experts; among others. Washington DC-based RESOLVE – a non-profit organization specializing in consensus building processes in public decision making - helped facilitate stakeholder involvement.

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