Fact Sheet: Surface-treatment products for private use

There are rules specifying which surface treatment products may be sold to private individuals. Surface treatment products cover a wide range of products, e.g. paint, varnish, oil, wax, paint removers and similar, in ready-to-use mixtures for treatment of surfaces.

With regard to surface treatment products for commercial use, the importer, manufacturer or distributor must set a code number, also called a MAL-code, for the products.

The products must be labelled with the code number consisting of two numbers connected with a hyphen.

The number before the hyphen indicates the safety measures that need to be taken against inhaling vapours from the product's content, including organic solvents. The number divides the products into the following seven groups: 00-, 0-, 1-, 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-. The higher numbers the greater is the need to ventilate and use respiratory equipment.

The number after the hyphen in the code number indicates the safety measures to be taken when, for instance, there is a risk if the skin and eyes come into direct contact with the product.

Private individuals may only use products labelled 2- or less for indoor surface treatment

It is not allowed for private individuals to surface treat ceilings, walls and floors inside buildings with chemical substances and products where the code number before the hyphen is 3 or more. Import and selling of these substances and products for private use is also prohibited.

Exemption for products in wet rooms labelled with 3-

It is permitted to import, sell and use chemical substances and products for private individuals, if the code number before the hyphen is 3, and if the products are used for surface treatment in wet rooms and on floors.

Labelling of products

If chemical substances and products with code number 3 before the hyphen are to be sold to private individuals, they must be labelled with the text: "May indoors only be used for walls in wet rooms and on floors". The text on the label must be legible and indelible.

When selling to private individuals, chemical substances and products with code number 4 and 5 before the hyphen must be labelled with the text: "May not be used for walls, ceilings and floors indoors". The text on the label must be legible and indelible.

The aim of the rules are protecting private individuals from vapours from paint etc.

The rules are made with the purpose of protecting private individuals from injuries caused by inhaling vapours from products when treating indoor surfaces.

Importers, distributers and users are responsible

Anyone who imports, sells or uses one or more of the products mentioned is responsible for compliance with the rules according to the provisions of the Statutory Order.

The Environmental Protection Agency's chemical inspectors monitor compliance with the regulations and will ensure that illegal situations are brought into compliance. This may involve withdrawing the product from the Danish market, or making the product legal in some other way. Anyone who breaches the regulations may additionally face a fine or a prison sentence of up to two years.

More information 

The entire text of the regulations is available (in Danish) on the Retsinfo website. Miljøministeriets bekendtgørelse nr. 830 af 30. oktober 1999 om mærkning og begrænsning af import, salg og anvendelse af overfladebehandlingsprodukter .

Executive Order no. 830 30/10/1999 on labelling and restriction of the import, sale and use of surface treatment product (In English)

Further information about code numbers and work on code numbered products can be found in the statutory orders from the National Working Environment Authority:

No. 301 of 13 May 1993 on fixing of code numbers (at retsinfo.dk, in Danish).

No. 302 of 13 May 1993 on work with code numbered products (at retsinfo.dk, in Danish).