Tackling the problem of toxic sofas

09-02-2010 15:47 (0 comments)

What is the story behind the rashes and sores caused by some sofa products.

Last year a BBC report said a judge was expected to order several companies to pay millions of pounds to people who suffered burns and rashes from faulty leather sofas. What was behind this story and what are the implications for anyone buying a sofa now?


In March 2009 the BBC said it had evidence that a number of furniture retailers had accepted liability after more than 1,600 people claim to have been affected by the problem. The report went to claim “thousands more people could have burns not yet traced to sofas.”


Manufactured in China the sofas were packed with sachets of an anti-mould chemical called dimethyl fumarate or DMF. The chemicals were intended to stop the sofas from going mouldy during storage in humid conditions.


According to the report, “When the sachets get hot, the chemical evaporates into the air - penetrating through the leather and victims' clothing and onto their skin - causing painful blisters and sores.”


One customer reported rashes and flaky skin which worsened so much she had to be signed off work for two months. Others complained of blisters, sores and eye irritation.


The mystery was only solved when a Liverpool dermatologist heard of an increasing number of patients suffering similar symptoms and discovered they had all recently bought new leather furniture made in China.


A BBC Watchdog programme and adverts placed in national newspapers warning people they may have been affected finally uncovered the scale of the problem.


The European Union has since take action with a new directive in May requiring all retailers to recall from sale any goods which contain the chemical. Similar goods will also be prevented from reaching the shops.


An EU Consumer Affairs Commissioner is quoted as saying “We are absolutely certain that the minor quantities of this product DMF in leather sofas or shoes could cause a terrible allergy and even death. It is very, very serious, we will not compromise on safety.”


The good news is there is absolutely no risk of toxic allergies on any of the sofas on offer from English Sofas. The company is not associated with any of the factories involved.


English Leather Sofas provides a wide range of Traditional Chesterfield Leather Sofas, Designer Leather Sofas, Italian leather Sofas and Leather Sofa beds at highly competitive prices.

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