Formaldehyde is used in the manufacture of building materials and household products. It is one of the large family of chemical compounds called volatile organic compounds or “VOCs,” meaning that the compound off-gases, or vaporizes, at normal room temperatures.
Formaldehyde was earlier used in emulsion paints and water-thinnable paints, for prevention of infection and growth in microorganisms. Paints in which the necessary preservatives could develop serious mal-odors and in some cases due to production of gas and could lead to explosion of the containers. There are also instances of Fungi growth in a completely cured painted surface.
Formaldehyde is also a cancer-causing chemical. However, exposure to formaldehyde vapors can also produce a variety of dangerous short-term symptoms.
Decree 2011-321 of 23 March 2011, and the decree of 29 April 2011, makes mandatory for manufacturers to affix a label to the product or its packaging informing the consumer about the possibility of emissions of volatile products, specially for building products, paints and varnishes.
Low emission products are graded A+, high emission products are graded C.
This European ecological quality mark guarantees to consumers that the product is environmentally friendly throughout its life cycle, from the extraction of the raw materials, through all stages of the production and distribution process, to disposal. To obtain this ecological certification, the paints must meet and comply with strict rules.
Designers, construction companies, painting and furniture manufacturers, have the duty to provide and use only the materials which respond to high health and environment compatibility standards.