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CHEMICALS

Everything that changes in Germany in April 2018

From soggier chips to not being able to see into the future anymore, these are the things that will change for Germans in April 2018.

Everything that changes in Germany in April 2018
Chips will contain less of the chemical acrylamide from April 1st. Photo: DPA

Minimum wage on the up

The minimum wage will go up for contract and temporary workers. In western Germany, the wage goes up to €9.47 (an increase of 2.8 percent), while in eastern Germany it will increase to €9.27 (an increase of 4 percent).

Higher prescription costs

Higher copayments for certain prescribed medicines will be required, with up to a €10 charge per medicine, reported the Deutscher Apothekerverband. The list of prescriptions falling under the new law include the painkillers Fentanyl, Morphine and Oxycontin, anti-inflammatory drugs, blood thinners and medicines with the antibody Infliximab, which fight against tumors.

Credit: DPA

Good news for young entrepreneurs

There is more venture capital available starting in April for German start-ups thanks to the European Recovery Programme (ERP) fund. Start-ups can apply for capital from the fund, which has a total of €790 million available, or more than half of the previous amount.

Interested parties can make an application with the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau.

New car emergency system

All new cars which are put on the market after April 1st are legally required to have an emergency call system, called an eCall. In the event of a serious crash, the technology will automatically alert the authorities, giving them the time of the incident, location of the car and number of occupants in the vehicle.

Owners of older cars aren’t obliged to kit out their vehicles with the eCall system, but they can do so if they want to.

Melting lead in order to tell fortunes on New Year's Eve. Credit: DPA

Dropped like a lead balloon

An EU-wide act bans all products which contain a proportion of lead higher than 0.3 percent. In December, this will put a definitive damper on the New Year’s Eve tradition of Bleigießen (lead pouring), a German tradition to tell fortunes based on the shapes that form when molten lead falls into cold water.

The reason for the ban lies in the health dangers that, when exposed to heat, the substance can turn into lead oxide, which when inhaled has damaging effects on the nervous system, brain, liver and kidneys.

Healthier chips

From April 11th onwards chips, coffee, bread and Muesli will have to contain less of a chemical called acrylamide, which has possible links to cancer. That means that chips will have to contain less starch and potatoes will have to be soaked before they are fried.

A possible downside is that your fries will be less crispy from now on.

HEALTH

Study finds high concentration of chemicals at kindergartens

Many German kindergartens have three times the level of dangerous chemicals than an average household, posing serious health risks to children, a study released on Tuesday revealed.

Study finds high concentration of chemicals at kindergartens
Photo: DPA

Of the 60 kindergartens that volunteered for testing, two-thirds showed high levels of phthalates, a type of plasticizer that can cause endocrine system disruption, environmental group Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) said in Berlin.

The chemicals, used in countless plastic products worldwide, can change hormone levels, causing sterility, birth defects, and increasing the risk of breast and testicular cancer, the group said.

Children are particularly vulnerable to phthalates because their organs have not fully developed.

The high concentration in care centres for children seems to arise from their abundant use of plastic products, including PVC flooring, tumbling mats, balance balls and toys.

BUND analyzed dust at each of the facilities, finding that the phthalates DEHP and DINP were most common.

The Federal Environment Agency (UBA) generally discourages the use of phthalates, in particular DEHP, in toys, a practice that has been restricted in the European Union since 1999. The 2008 the United States also banned the use of more than 0.1 percent of certain phthalates in children’s toys.

Phthalates and other plasticizers are mixed with synthetic materials to improve flexibility and durability, and some products contain up to 50 percent of the substance. According to BUND, one million tonnes of phthalates are produces in Western Europe annually.

Used in a variety of products, from cosmetics to building materials, the chemical does not bond to other materials, thus it is released into the environment as plastics break down. While this poses no problem outdoors, where they biodegrade, they accumulate indoors, increasing the risk of exposure.

DAPD/ka

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