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The Oeko-Tex® Standard was originally developed as a label that gives guarantees on various aspects of textile ecology, with the first module focusing on consumer health, especially to prevent adverse health reactions induced by textiles.
From this perspective, Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 focused on requirements on hazardous substances, like heavy metals, toxic dyes, crop protection substances, and carcinogenic substances like formaldehyde (used in textiles as an anti-wrinkle substance).
Each label has a serial number and carries the name of the institute that carried out the laboratory tests for the qualification for the standard.
The Oeko-Tex® consortium has developed three certification schemes for textiles:
The Oeko-Tex® 100 standard has requirements for the final product and aims to guarantee that products are free of harmful substances and therefore safe for human health and the environment too. Oeko-Tex® 100 is perhaps the most accepted and well-known standard out of the three.
Oeko-Tex® 100plus requirements are awarded on the basis that the selected products are free of harmful substances according to the Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 and are only manufactured in environmentally-friendly operations at socially acceptable conditions as per the Oeko-Tex® Standard 1000 - this process must be ensured along the entire production chain, from the production of yarn to ready-made products.
The Oeko-Tex® standards series have been developed and are managed by the International Oeko-Tex® Association, a group of 15 textile research and test institutes in Europe and Japan, with representative agencies and contact offices in over 60 countries worldwide.
Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 applies throughout the textile industry and its scope covers textile and leather items at all levels of production, including textile and non-textile accessories. The standard is also applicable to mattresses, feathers and downs, foams, upholstery, and others material with similar characteristics.
Oeko-Tex® products classes are divided based on their intended use:
The Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 certification is present in more than 90 countries mostly in Asia (55.7%) and Europe (41.29%) as per June 2011. China is the country with the most valid Oeko-Tex® certificates, closely followed by Germany and (significantly further behind) Turkey, Italy and India.
The Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 is mostly used for products classified as Class II, which are intended to be used in circumstances where the majority of the product has direct contact with the skin, e.g. underwear, bed linen, terry goods, shirts, blouses etc.
Examples of certified suppliers can be found here.
According to the Oeko-Tex® newsletter published in February of 2011; there are over 9,500 companies certified with Oeko-Tex® Standard 100 in total.