The Carpet & Rug Institute (CRI), Dalton, Ga., no longer recognizes Green Seal’s GS-37 Standard as a green certification for CRI’s Seal of Approval (SOA) Carpet Cleaning Solutions. The decision comes after Green Seal revised GS-37 to take into account the impact of chemicals on health, specifically children’s health.

CRI accused Green Seal of arbitrarily banning chemicals according to lists of hazardous materials without performing any scientific assessments on the product.

“Any toxicologist will tell you the dose makes the poison,” says Werner Braun, CRI, president. “Because you have a few molecules of some chemical on some list does not make the product hazardous.”

Green Seal did not perform risk assessments since most current studies focused only on adults.

“Because of the differences between adults and kids and the uncertainty as to whether the current process was taking children’s health into consideration, we thought it would be best to take a precautionary approach,” says Linda Chipperfield, Green Seal, vice president, marketing and outreach.

Braun contends that a risk assessment, if done correctly, takes the entire population into account — both adults and children.

CRI is also concerned that GS-37 measures product efficacy against a “nationally recognized” product rather than against an approved standard.

Green Seal contends that no single standard exists to test against a product’s efficacy for carpet cleaners. If there was a standard, Green Seal would have included it into the revision process, says Chipperfield.

CRI also took issue with the voting process. Green Seal followed the voting process in accordance to the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) 14024. The standard requires that reasonable efforts be made to achieve consensus, but does not require all stakeholders to vote the same way.

CRI was aware that ISO 14024 does not require a consensus, but CRI vice president and COO Frank Hurd thought the standard would be re-balloted to get more feedback from stakeholders. It was not.

Only a few people brought up the idea of a second vote during the voting process, says Chipperfield.

“It was discussed, but no problems were expressed at the time and the idea was dropped,” she says. “It was only a few weeks after the fact (when the standard was released) that CRI and a few other chemical companies brought up the issue.”

CRI will reconsider its decision if Green Seal adopts a consensus standard-setting approach, specifically using the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) method (Green Seal earned ANSI standards during the revision of GS-37, but the organization was already using the ISO 14024 process).

“Our expectations are if the process is reopened, Green Seal uses the ANSI process,” says Hurd. “The process is lengthy and detailed and would not have allowed GS-37 to be released in its current form,” he says.

CRI is not the first organization to object to the standard.

In an open letter to Dr. Arthur Weissman, Ph.D., president and CEO of Green Seal, the New York State Chemical Alliance, the Alkylphenol Ethoxylates Research Council, the American Chemistry Council, the Fragrance Materials Association, Reckitt Benckiser Inc., and The Soap and Detergent Association contested the revision.

The letter accuses Green Seal of not following the ISO standard to reach a consensus and highlights Green Seal’s rejection of using a science-based risk assessment.

At this time Green Seal has no immediate plans to change or revise the standard.