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Benchmarks for managing indoor air quality for formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a gas which causes irritation of the airways and ocular mucous membranes. It is emitted indoors particularly by building, decoration and furnishing products, cleaning products, cosmetics and combustion activity.

In 2009, the HCSP produced benchmarks for managing indoor air quality for formaldehyde. The General Directorate for Health (DGS) and General Directorate for Risk Prevention (DGPR) asked the HCSP to update these values where necessary in light of new knowledge.

The HCSP recommends adopting two management benchmarks to prevent effects associated with exposure to formaldehyde:

  • An indoor air quality benchmark (IAQB) set at 100 µg/m³ (measurements carried out over successive 1 to 4-hour periods, throughout the day, under occupied conditions).
  • A provisional management value set at 30 µg/m³ (measurements over a 4.5- to 7-day period).

In light of the data available, not exceeding the 30 µg/m³ value on average over a 4.5- to 7-day period would ensure continuous compliance with the 100 µg/m³ IAQB. This provisional management value will no longer be used once new continuous measuring instruments have been standardised and become available at a reasonable price.

This report updates the management benchmarks values for formaldehyde. These new values have been established in accordance with the methodological framework defined by the HCSP in January 2019.

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