Thu, 09/20/2012 - 12:47 -- klm-admin

15.01.2021 Article publication: More consumer protection for ingredients in food: No shining example

A warm summer evening, a cozy spot on the terrace and a wonderfully cool drink to go with it - who doesn't immediately think of one of the Germans' favorite cocktails: the Aperol Spritz, delicious served on ice with a slice of lemon or orange.
But what makes this aperitif made of Prosecco, mineral water, ice and Aperol a real cocktail classic? Is it the typical taste of the mixture or rather its shiny orange color that excites so many people?
If you look a little closer and are interested in the ingredients of this cocktail, you will quickly be disappointed, because the manufacturer leaves the consumer largely in the dark about this. More information and consumer protection is urgently needed, because these are so-called azo dyes, which can also cause damage to health.

For this reason, the Hamburg Environmental Institute has taken a closer look at the issue of transparency and health compatibility of ingredients in foods such as Aperol Spritz.
The article was published in the current issue 01-2020 of the science e-journal Wissenswert. The entire issue can be read for free at the following link: Wissenswert 01-2020 (HUI article on pp. 26-28). Language: German.

(General information about Wissenswert is available HERE).



08.07.2020 Media: WDR Market: Disinfectants - how harmful are they really?

The President Scientific Director of the Hamburg Environmental Institute, Prof. Michael Braungart, answered questions on the subject of disinfectants in the WDR consumer magazine "Markt".

Summary of the WDR: In the office, in shops or in your handbag: Disinfectants are our new daily companions. Since the beginning of the corona crisis, we have been using the virus-killing gels in an almost inflationary way. In many cases unnecessarily, because a thorough soap cleaning is sufficient. Worse still: some of the disinfectant's ingredients can damage the respiratory tract or even cause cancer if used excessively. Markt gets to the bottom of it.

The whole video clip is available here in the WDR media library (Language: German).



Hamburg, April 27, 2020

Press release: The Hamburger Umweltinstitut warns against health hazards from disinfectants

Due to the current COVID-19 crisis, disinfectants are used in large quantities, not only for hand disinfection, but also for disinfecting objects and floors. Entire streets are treated with disinfectants. However, there are a number of aspects which may be easily underestimated in the eagerness to fight this pandemic, which should also be taken into account.

Many of the ingredients of disinfectants are harmful to health (e.g. carcinogenic, sensitizing, allergenic, damaging to lungs, liver and nerves). This applies when inhaling sprays as well as for skin treatment. Isopropanol, for example, is far more toxic than common drinking alcohol. Aldehydes and ketones, as well as additional processed chemicals and fragrances, also pose considerable health risks. In addition to that, the frequent use of such fat dissolving agents damages the skin flora, resistances of respective germs may develop and dermatoses are possible. Having dried-out skin, there is an increasing risk of rubbing one’s aching hands in the face and thus transferring even more germs. Applying moisturizers can further aggravate the problem, as the greasy outer surface of the COVID-19 virus is thereby almost actively retained.

Additionally, the Hamburger Umweltinstitut warns against dangers and risks of swallowing and eye contact. Most commercially available disinfectants do not contain any warnings in this regard. Apart from this, disinfectants are drastically overpriced in relation to their actual value.

The warning of the Hamburger Umweltinstitut refers exclusively to the exaggerated use of disinfectants outside the medical field. In the medical area, disinfectants are without doubt beneficial. For many disinfectants to work effectively, an exposure of up to 15 minutes would be required. This means that they are only of limited use against viruses including COVID-19.

So what can be done? There are certainly good reasons in the medical field such as in hospitals or doctors' surgeries for using chemical disinfectants. However, their general application in kindergartens, schools, workplaces or even at home is irresponsible and grossly negligent. Since these organic solvents can damage the respiratory tract, people with pre-existing conditions such as asthma are particularly vulnerable. There may be an increased risk of a fatal COVID-19 virus infection. Washing the hands carefully with curd soap, olive soap or any other household hand soap is sufficient enough to rule out possible infection risks via hands or through hand contact. This should be actively communicated in the appropriate educational facilities instead of offering chemical solvents in litres and canisters as supposedly safe solution.

Quote: "Dealing with disinfectants means dealing with dangerous chemical solvents and the potential for severe health risks. The use of chemical disinfectants should be reserved for medical use only, also in order to prevent the development of any resistances. Cracked, dry skin can also cause pain through inflammation and pose health risks for the transmission of infectious diseases", states Prof. Dr. Michael Braungart, Chairman of the Hamburger Umweltinstitut, in this article.



09.03.2020, 19.30h: Lecture & discussion: "Ich zuerst!" (Me first!) by Heike Leitschuh at the Museum of the Future in Lüneburg

09.03.2020, 19.30h, Museum of the Future, Papenstraße 15, 21335 Lüneburg


Heike Leitschuh will give a lecture (with subsequent discussion) on her book "Ich zuerst. Eine Gesellschaft auf dem Ego-Trip" at the Museum of the Future in Lüneburg. The event starts at 19.30 hrs.

The "Ichlinge" are coming - Does the constant competition threaten our society?

Neo-liberal thinking is damaging our society and is causing solidarity and respect among people to dwindle. More and more people think only about themselves, their careers and their own needs and therefore treat their fellow human beings like the last muck. In politics and the media, the problem is neglected and its full extent has not yet been recognised. So it is high time to rethink and to take countermeasures, both with a different policy and for each and every one of us. Because no one wants to live in a country in which everyone is only himself and only that which is worthwhile counts.

The Hamburg Environmental Institute and the Museum of the Future are looking forward to a inspiring lecture with following discussion and cordially invite you to participate.

Language: German. Further information can be found here.


The Hamburger Umweltinstitut e.V. (Hamburg Environmental Institute - Center for Social and Ecological Technology) was founded in 1989 for scientific research on environmental solutions. It is a registered, independent, non-profit organization with an tax-exempt status.

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