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Fermacell - ibr report_english

Institut für Baubiologie Rosenheim GmbH Summary Report No. 3001-100
“Tested and recommended by the IBR”
FERMACELL gypsum fibreboard
Sampling carried out under the formal supervision of the Braunschweig Materials Testing Institute Employees of the agency commissioned to carry out the tests This Test Report consists of 7 pages and may only be reproduced and published in its entirety and without amendments. Selected extracts may only be published with the prior written permission of the IBR. Table of Contents

1. The company and the product
Biocides, PCB, DDT, metabolites, pyrethroids 2.10 Diffusion and resorptive capacity 2.11 Salmonella test (Ames test) 3. Notes on the award and use of the IBR Seal of Approval
1. The company and the product
1.1 The company
Xella Trockenbau-Systeme GmbH, a company owned by Xella Baustoffe
GmbH of Duisburg, manufactures and sells construction materials for the dry-
lining segment. The company employs over 500 persons, including more
than 130 in other European countries outside Germany. The products are
made in six manufacturing plants and marketed through the company’s own
sales offices, of which there are currently 17 throughout Europe. The main
business fields are the FERMACELL gypsum fibreboard program for interior
dry-lining work, the cement-based FERMACELL HD building board for
exterior wall linings, the DICON TU fire-resistant building board and the
MULITPOR mineral insulation material.
FERMACELL gypsum fibreboards and ancillary products are marketed
throughout Europe. The company’s sales organization has six sales offices in
Germany and another eight in other European countries: Denmark, France,
the United Kingdom, Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands
and Switzerland. The product is manufactured at three factories in Germany,
two in Lower Saxony and a third in Baden-Württemberg. There is also a
fourth manufacturing facility in the Netherlands.
1.2 The product
The Fermacell dry-lining board is a gypsum fibreboard made from a
homogeneous mixture of gypsum and paper fibres. In the manufacturing
process plaster of paris is mixed with paper fibres obtained by the dry
shredding of waste paper. These constituents are scattered onto a moving
conveyor belt while water is added. The moisturized quilt is then compressed
under high pressure to form a continuous slab, which is fed via a curing
conveyor belt to a drying oven. When the slab is fully cured, the two faces
are ground smooth and the continuous slab is cut to the required panel size.
Constituents: approx. 82% plaster (as a dihydrate, CaSO4 × 2 H2O), approx.
18% recycled paper fibres
The Safety Data Sheets relating to the product were made available to the
test personnel. A full declaration of the product constituents was also
More detailed technical specifications may be obtained directly from the
The remainder of this Report is concerned with an investigation of the
biological safety of this material.
2. Tests and test results

2.1 Radioactivity
The sample was evaluated in accordance with the Leningrad formula: (K-
40)/4810 + c(Ra-226)/370 + c(Th-232)/259 = f, where c(K-40) is the activity
of the kalium-40, c(Ra-226) is the activity of the radium-226 and c(Th-232) is
the activity of the thorium-232 (all in Bq/kg). The value f is obtained by
inserting the three measured values c(K-40), c(Ra-226) and c(Th-232) in the
above equation.
Test results: A value of 0.04 was obtained for the product.
Threshold or guideline values
Official guideline value of the Scientific Committee at the Federal Ministry of Science Guideline value of the Munich Environmental Institute
Evaluation: The radioactivity of the tested product is within the government
guideline of f < 1, the threshold value of f < 0.75 stipulated by the IBR, and
the strict standard of f < 0.5 adopted by the Munich Environmental Institute.
2.2 Biocides, PCB, DDT, metabolites, pyrethroids
Analytical method: The sample is extracted with a solvent mixture based on
the “Blaudruck F 2” method (heavy-volatile hydrogenated hydrocarbons). Any
pentachlorophenol present is derived with acetane hydride. The extract is
prepared with Florisil and concentrated by insufflation with nitrogen. After
immersion in n-hexane/acetone the sample is analysed by gas
chromatography (GC/ECD).
Measured value (mg/kg)
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)
Measured value (mg/kg)
DDT and metabolites
Measured value (mg/kg)

Measured value (mg/kg)

Evaluation: All the harmful substances tested for are present in
concentrations that are below the detection threshold. This product is not
expected to pose a health hazard.
2.3 Solvents and aromatics (VOCs)

With the increasing use of chemicals in the workplace and in our daily life in
general, the indoor air quality has steadily deteriorated. The so-called MAK
values (= maximum workplace concentration) were introduced in order to
monitor safety in the workplace. In the domestic sphere, however, where we
spend far more time, there are – with very few exceptions – no statutory
limits or threshold values laid down for airborne harmful substances. It is the
declared aim of the new German state Building Codes and the EC
Construction Products Directive to safeguard the health of building users.
The scientific network set up to determine and define VOC threshold values
is known as the ECA (European Collaborative Action). In 1997 this body
recommended the use of so-called LCI values (= lowest concentration of
interest) as the criterion for hazard assessment – meaning concentrations of
substances that are just high enough to merit toxicological interest. As an
organization dedicated to the protection of the environment we were thus
being presented for the first time with an official list of materials which are
relevant to the whole solvents debate. In October 2000 the “Committee for
Health-related Evaluation of Building Products” published a paper addressing
the issue of LCI values and underlining the need for more research on which
to base any health-related evaluation of emissions from volatile organic
compounds (VOCs) in building products. Because of the current situation, no
further investigative methods have been developed, as they normally would
be, from the measurement procedure described in this document. Our own
test method is therefore to be understood as only an approximation.
Test method
The preparation of the material samples is carried out by dynamic headspace
sampling. The samples are conditioned at 50ºC in a materials testing oven.
Sampling is performed by pumping air through a sealed vessel containing
activated charcoal tubes supplied by Messrs. Dräger. The adsorbed
substances are then eluted with carbon disulphide (CS2) and analysed using
gas chromatography (GC/FID or MS/SIM or full scan mode).
Analyses carried out for the following substances produced negative results.
2.3.1 Aromatic hydrocarbons (detection threshold 0.005 mg/kg)
Toluene 4-Phenylcyclohexane Isopropylbenzene 1-Methyl-2-propyl-benzene (Cumol) n-Propylbenzene 1-Methyl-3-propylbenzene
2.3.2. Saturated aliphatic hydrocarbons (detection threshold 0.005 mg/kg)
Isopentan n-Octadecan
2.3.3. Unsaturated aliphatic hydrocarbons (detection threshold 0.005 mg/kg)
Cyclohexane cis-1-Methyl 4

2.3.4. Terpene (detection threshold 0.010 mg/kg)

2.3.5. Aliphatic alcohols (detection threshold 0.010 mg/kg)
2.2.4-Trimetyl-1.3-Pentandiol, monoisobutyrate
2.3.6. Aromatic alcohols (detection threshold 0.005 mg/kg)

2.3.7. Glycols and glycol ethers (detection threshold 0.010 mg/kg)
2-Butoxyethanol (buthylglycol) butoxyethoxy)-ethanol
2.3.8. Aldehydes (detection threshold 0.010 mg/kg)

2.3.9. Ketones (detection threshold 0.010 mg/kg)
ethylketone) MEK
2.3.10. Acids (detection threshold 0.010 mg/kg)
Acetic acid

2.3.11. Chlorinated hydrocarbons
(detection threshold 0.010 mg/kg)

2.3.12. Esters (detection threshold 0.010 mg/kg)
2-Methoxyethylacetate 3.7 Dimethy-lacetate
2.3.13. Phthalates (detection threshold 0.010 mg/kg)
2.3.14. Other substances (detection threshold 0.010 mg/kg)

Evaluation: None of the substances tested for were found in concentrations
above the detection threshold of the test procedure. This product is not
expected to pose a hazard in terms of the solvents and aromatics (VOCs)
tested for here.
2.4 Metals / Heavy metal content
2.4.1 Test carried out on the original in accordance with DIN 34806-E22,
2.4.2 Test carried out on the eluate in accordance with DIN 38414-S4
This test procedure is designed to determine which substances contained in
the test materials are soluble in water under these test conditions. The
documentation of these substances in terms of type and mass provides
useful information about possible threats to water courses or groundwater if
the materials are stored or dumped in such a way that they come into contact
with water.
Tests were carried out to detect the presence of the following:
Arsenic / Lead/ Cadmium / Chrome / Copper / Nickel / Mercury / Zinc / Cobalt
/ Iron / Manganese / Selenium / Tin
Evaluation: This product is not expected to pose a hazard due to the
presence of metals or heavy metals.
2.5 Rate of heat storage S
Heating up an enclosed space with a heating system of a given thermal
output takes less time the lower the heat penetration coefficient b of the
surfaces enclosing the space, or the better the heat retention capacity (rate
of heat storage S) of the building components concerned.
Evaluation: Based on the calculated rate of heat storage S of 1250 kJ/m³
this product exhibits a good heat retention capacity.
2.6 Determination of fine dusts in accordance with DIN 53482 P8, based
on DIN 53811
Dusts are dispersed distributions of solid particles in gases, resulting from mechanical processes or turbulence. Dusts are classed with smokes and mists as aerosols. In order to evaluate the health risks posed by dusts, the factors that need to be considered include the specific effect of the harmful substance concerned, concentration, exposure time and particle size. The last-named makes dusts significantly different from gases and vapours. Dusts are primarily absorbed into the human body by inhalation. The transport and deposition of the dust in the respiratory tract are largely determined by the behaviour of the particles in gas flows.
Evaluation: Pollution of the indoor air or the environment by fine dusts
resulting from the use of the tested product is not expected to occur. Neither
the dust nor the traces of fine dust exhibited the fibrous form that would be
required for permeation of the alveoli.
2.7 Electrostatic behaviour
Constant exposure to an electrostatically charged atmosphere can cause
irritation – and possibly result in actual sickness. The electrostatic behaviour
is evaluated in terms of three test criteria, which are correlated with each
other. The magnitude of the surface voltage provides a measure of the
constant voltage state. The maximum attainable charge (threshold charge)
provides a measure of transitory peak charge states. These conditions are
never encountered in practice, and represent a theoretical test value
indicating the maximum voltage state of a material. What is more important
as far as the indoor air is concerned is how fast this static charge falls back to
the so-called normal state. The time taken to fall back to half the threshold
charge is known as the static charge half-life period. The longer the time
taken to reach the static charge half-life value, the longer a person is
exposed to the voltage field. The evaluation of materials for use in domestic
interiors is therefore predicated on the selection of materials that have a low
threshold charge and consequently a short static charge half-life.
Evaluation: The sample tested can be rated as a preferred environmental
option on the basis of its electrostatic behaviour.
2.8 Evaluation of thermal behaviour
The physiological processes in living organisms are always associated with
the production or exchange of heat. People feel comfortable indoors when
the human body and its surroundings are in a state of thermal equilibrium.
This means that the ambient temperature has to be adjusted to different
requirements. Looking at the problem of managing heat loss and gain in
humans in purely physical terms, the key variable to be considered is the
thermal conductivity value. The thermal conductivity value indicates how
much heat (measured in watts) passes through one square metre of a one-
metre thick building material in the course of one hour if the temperature
gradient in the direction of heat flow is 1 Kelvin (= 1ºC). The lower the
thermal conductivity of a material, the better its insulating performance. The
lamda value is a laboratory value relating to dry building materials. In practice
the materials used in the construction of a house are generally exposed to
constant moisture. Moisture is a good conductor of heat, which is why the
thermal insulation capacity of building materials is influenced to a large
degree by their moisture content.
Evaluation: The measured thermal conductivity value of 0.36 W/mK may be
classed as “normal”.

2.9 Environmental behaviour
As a company, Xella Trockenbau-Systeme generally uses REA gypsum, but
blends of REA gypsum and natural gypsum are also used, depending on the
individual production plant. The use of REA gypsum helps to conserve
natural gypsum resources.
REA gypsum is a by-product of the desulphurization of flue gases. According
to estimates by the Federal Ministry of the Environment, between three and
four million tonnes of REA gypsum are produced in the whole of Germany
each year. Natural gypsum and REA gypsum are chemically identical, and
both are ecologically harmless.
Studies have shown overall that the differences between natural gypsum and
REA gypsum in terms of chemical composition and trace element content are
insignificant from a health point of view. The results of analyses would
indicate that the tested samples of natural gypsum and REA gypsum may be
used in the manufacture of building materials without giving rise to concerns
on health grounds.
Evaluation: In our judgement the material is ecologically harmless.
2.10 Diffusion and resorptive capacity
A pleasant and healthy indoor climate in which we feel comfortable is
dependent in part on the right level of atmospheric moisture. As the moisture
content of the air is constantly changing for a wide range of reasons, it is
necessary to establish an equilibrium. To some extent this can be achieved
by ventilation of the space. However, the surfaces that enclose the living
space – walls, ceilings, etc. – also have an important role to play here. These
need to exhibit the best possible water vapour buffering capability. They must
be able to absorb excess moisture from the air in the room and release it
again later. This capability is decisively influenced by the physical
characteristics of the surface finishing products and insulating materials and
by the type of surface finish or coating used.
Evaluation: The measured value m = 13 for the resistance to diffusion of
water vapour is rated as very good.
2.11 Salmonella test (Ames test)
The Ames test is designed to measure the mutagenic potential of substances
and materials. The test procedure is based on OECD guideline 471. The test
was performed with the two bacterial strains TA 98 and TA 100, with and
without metabolic activation in each case. Each sample was analysed with
three repeats. A positive and a negative control were also analysed for each
bacterial strain.
Evaluation: The eluate is non-mutagenic in the Ames test. The
biocompatibility of the material is duly established.
3. Notes on the award and use of the IBR Seal of Approval
In the interests of neutrality and objectivity, the Rosenheim Institute for
Building Biology contracts the tests and analyses out to various institutes and
test laboratories, which are required to submit test reports for the tests they
conduct. All the numerical values cited in this IBR Report are taken from the
individual test reports. These reports are kept at the Institute, where they are
available for inspection.
The test conditions, test procedures and evaluation of results are based on
the current state of our scientific knowledge. They may consequently be
altered, supplemented or enlarged in scope to take account of recent
advances in technology, science and/or test methods. This applies
particularly to advances in our knowledge relating to the detectability of
biologically negative (and also positive) effects and to criteria for the
documentation of ecological aspects, given that these areas of scientific
study are still relatively in their infancy.
On the basis of the test results submitted to the Rosenheim Institute for
Building Biology, the product known as
FERMACELL gypsum fibreboard
is hereby awarded the IBR Seal of Approval. This Seal of Approval must always be used in conjunction with the full product name/designation. The manufacturer may use the Seal of Approval only in advertising that relates strictly to those products for which it was awarded. He is under an obligation not to attempt to mislead the consumer by advertising that fails to make it absolutely clear which products the Seal of Approval was awarded for and which not. This applies also to the form of words “TESTED AND APPROVED BY THE IBR”. The “IBR” logo of the Institute may only be used as a constituent part of the Seal of Approval. Application may be made for an extension prior to expiry of the term of validity. The continued use of the Seal of Approval is dependent on a positive outcome to the follow-up tests commissioned by the IBR. The follow-up tests will be carried out in accordance with the latest available test criteria. Manufacturers who use the IBR Seal of Approval are under an obligation to inform the Institute in good time of any proposed product modifications that affect, or could affect, its biological impact on the domestic environment as previously tested. The Institute may prohibit the use of the Seal of Approval at any time in the event of abuse or misuse. [Signed] Uwe Rose, Executive Director Institut für Baubiologie GmbH Rosenheim, April 1004


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