Those of you who have followed my articles on Dimethyl Fumarate (DMF), the anti-mould substance found in leather sofa’s and armchairs might be interested to know that a court case was due to open today (22 September).
The case is to determine how much compensation should be paid out to the victims of sofa burns.
People across the UK developed skin complaints as a result of sitting on leather settees imported from China.
An estimated 5000 people are taking legal action against Walmsley, Argos and Land of Leather (now in liquidation) after tests confirmed that the furniture contained a sachet of DMF to protect against the spread of mould.
DMF has been found to be an allergic sensitiser at low concentration and can produce extensive and pronounced eczema that is difficult to treat. Concentrations as low as one part per million may produce allergic reactions.
The extreme risk was brought to public attention by the so called “poison chair” incident, where a Chinese manufacturer produced two-seater sofas with DMF sachets inside to inhibit mould while they were in storage or transport.
In Finland, from 2006 to 2007, an allergic reaction to the substance resulted in sixty users receiving serious rashes.
Since then a popular French distribution chain has found footwear sold in its stores to have been contaminated by DMF and has received complaints of skin damage.
In 2009 alone there has been 46 product recalls covering footwear in Spain, France and Germany.
Consumers in other countries such as Poland and Sweden exposed to DMF have reported health problems including skin irritation, burns and, in some cases, acute respiratory difficulties.
While DMF maybe an effective antifungal agent, it is harmful in contact with the skin and if in contact with the eyes could result in serious damage.
In the UK the courts will now determine what level of financial compensation should be paid to the victims of sofa burns.
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