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EU bans furniture chemical linked to health problems.

Byline: Marianna Pissa

EUROPEAN Union member states have voted for the banning of dimethylfumarate (DMF), which is described as an allergy-provoking chemical used to protect leather furniture or footwear from mould.

According to a report, consumers have linked exposure to the chemical to health problems including itching, irritation, redness, burns and respiratory difficulty

EU manufacturers are already banned from using the dangerous chemical but until now foreign companies have been allowed to use it in products exported to Europe. In the case of Cyprus most of this furniture in question comes from China.

General Coordinator of the Consumers Association of Cyprus George Tziapouras yesterday said: "No Cypriot consumers have called in to complain of developing any allergies from their furniture due to the substance in question. The responsible authorities have to carry out inspections to see that there is no DMF in any products on the market and this should act as a reference point for them to be extremely careful in the future"

The decision, which also calls for products already on the market containing DMF to be recalled, was taken as a matter of urgency after at least five EU countries reported consumers suffering allergies due to the chemical.

Consumers in Britain, Finland, France, Poland and Sweden have suffered serious health problems ranging from itching, irritation, redness, burns and, in some cases, acute respiratory difficulty due to DMF.

The chemical is placed in sachets which are then put inside furniture and shoe boxes to kill mould that would otherwise hurt the products during transport and storage in humid climates. The DMF then evaporates and impregnates the leather, protecting it from the mould.

EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva said: "There can be no compromise on safety. An EU-wide ban on the use of DMF in all consumer goods is designed to eliminate the serious health risks and in particular the severe allergic reactions suffered by some consumers when they are exposed".

The dangerous chemical initially raised concerns when notified by a number of Member State authorities through the EU rapid alert system for dangerous non-food consumer products (RAPEX).

The notifications related to sofas, armchairs and shoes and clinical tests confirmed that the dermatitis suffered by consumers in contact with these products was caused by DMF. The Decision which was agreed on January 29 covers all member states.

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Publication:Cyprus Mail (Cyprus)
Date:Feb 19, 2009
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