The Green Bear Mark of Excellence® promotes that belief that content based purchasing strategies are the only means to reduce and ultimately eliminate certain toxins. Examining closely what is beneath the surface of the products we buy and requiring the elimination of key toxic materials is a goal that is good for public health, the safety of our students and patients, our environment, and the global community.
PVCs and brominated flame retardants both contain halogens. The complete elimination of halogens from the products we buy is a key goal in a toxic reduction purchasing strategy. The risks associated with brominated flame retardants are well documented. The direct link between chlorine based compounds and the production of dioxin when incinerated is also well documented. A strategy to eliminate halogenated compounds from residence hall mattresses, medical support surfaces, furniture, wheelchair cushions, operating room pads, stretcher pads, and other products that we specify can go a long way to achieving a cleaner working environment.
Compliance with the Life Safety Code®, which is required by many state fire marshals and other permitting authorities (including JCAHO and CMS), requires that many purchased products be open flame resistant. The key test for this is the ASTM E1590/CAL 129 standard but the federally mandated 16 CFR 1633 standard and the BFD IX-11 standard are also key components of a comprehensive life safety strategy. These tests require that a product be open flame resistant when originally manufactured and tested and certified to these standards.
Content based purchasing strategies will focus purchasers and suppliers on the selection of raw materials needed to build the finished products that we purchase. These strategies that target the reduction or elimination of content materials, such as antimony, bromine, chlorine, lead, mercury and phthalates, are reasonable and attainable. Purchasers should seek to reward manufacturers that move to reduce or eliminate such chemicals from their product offerings. Striving for products that are Halogen Free and also devoid of other key toxic materials including antimony, lead, and mercury will go a long way to lower the potential negative impacts of sourcing activities on the environment.
NOTE: The performance attributes, product characteristics and material claims listed under the Green Bear Mark of Excellence are verified through supplier certification and laboratory testing where available or appropriate. The use of “free” as a descriptive term is intended to communicate an absence of those listed materials as determined to the detectable limits of reasonably customary test methods or as a result of manufacturing processes that have been conducted without the intentional use of the listed materials in processing steps or in the final composition of the product itself. Certain uncontrollable, natural, environmental occurrences of listed materials may be found and such occurrences are not intended to be precluded by the use of the term “free” as the potentially detected levels will still represent substantial and important reductions in the presence of such materials over traditional manufacturing approaches.