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Determination and work with code numbered products (MAL Code)

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1. Elaborated by

National Working Environment Authority, Denmark

2. Description

The National Working Environment Authority in Denmark has developed a code number system to provide users with a practical tool for choosing the less harmful product and decide working routines and prevention measures for products with different code numbers.

Once a code number is designated to a product it is easy for a user to compare products. The higher number – the more hazardous.

The code number consists of two numbers joined with a hyphen. The number before the hyphen represents the safety precautions to be taken against inhalation of vapors from the volatile substances. The number divides the products in seven groups from 00 to 5. The number after the hyphen represents the safety precautions to be taken in relation to skin- and eye damage, spray mist or ingestion. The number after the hyphen divides the products in 6 groups from 0 to 5.

The code number takes into account all the components of the product. The determination of the number before the hyphen is based on a calculation of MAL (the amount of air needed for occupational hygiene). MAL for approx. 330 substances and groups of substances is precalculated in the subannex of the executive order. It is possible to calculate MAL for new substances based on Threshold Limit Values ( TLV) and vapour pressure.

The determination of the number after the hyphen is among others based on classification, content of and weight percentage of acidic, alkaline, irritant components, penetration of skin and allergy risk. The number for approx. 330 substances and groups of substances is precalculated in subannex 1 of the executive order.

The following types of products shall in Denmark be supplied with a code number determined by the importer, manufacturer or distributor, but any type of product can be designated a code number by using the determination tool in the executive order.

  • paints, including automotive paints, and paint-like coatings of surfaces, e.g. acrylate floors,
  • glues (adhesives), including organic solvents use for joining things:
    • in connection with construction work,
    • in the motor-car industry, car bodies and aircraft parts,
  • fillers, including caulking compounds, sealing compounds and stoppers as well as putty for:
    • construction work,
    • the motor-car industry, car bodies and aircraft parts,
  • printing inks, silk screen printing inks and other products used for graphic printing processes,
  • thinner used for the above products,
  • products used for preparatory and finishing operations in connection with work with the above products, including degreasing agents, wash-up agents and paint removers.

3. Reliability

The reliablility depends on the reliability of the Threshold Limit Values.

4. Applicability

Can be used to assess both substances and products.

5. User friendliness

Once the code number is calculated it is very easy for downstream users and consumers to compare hazards of different products. The designation of code numbers requires expertise. The substances in sub-annex 1 are not supplied with CAS-numbers for identification of the substances.

6. Limitations

To determine the code number you need information about de percentage by weight of the individual substances in the product. The code number can only be calculated for substances with a TLV (Threshold Limit Value).The Danish official code numbers relate to the Danish TLV´s from 1993. It is possible though to use the code number system with other TLV´s or tentative TLV´s for comparison of products.

7. Availability

The executive orders in English (including annexes) can be downloaded free from the Danish Working Environment Authorities homepage.

8. Links:

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