Dimethyl Fumarate Linked to “Sofa Rash”

A chemical being added to furniture, a so-called anti-fungal/biocidal agent, is leaving many with rashes and allergies. <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/Dimethyl-Fumarate-Allergy-Sofa-Rash-Dermatitis-Allergies-Lawsuit">Dimethyl fumarate (DMF) is a toxic chemical not regulated in the United States but was, as of May 2009, banned in consumer products in Europe, said eHow.

We previously wrote that DMF, a toxin used to prevent mold growth, was being added to furniture shipments coming into the United States from China and was linked to a red rash people were experiencing on the back of their legs. Those who are allergic to DMF can develop contact dermatitis, which is a rash that can appear anywhere on the body. The skin becomes irritated, dry, and chapped and then becomes red, scaly, and inflamed, a problem previously described as “an epidemic of Chinese sofa and chair dermatitis” in Europe as far back as 2008.

DMF can make its way into the fabric of furniture and can also penetrate clothes when someone sits on the furniture, according to Joseph F. Fowler Jr., MD, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Louisville, Kentucky, said WebMD.

DMF can now also be found in pouches affixed inside furniture as well as in shoe boxes. A “fine, white, crystalline powder,” DMF becomes airborne and infiltrates the product, said eHow. It is when the chemical comes in contact with clothes that it touches skin and creates an allergic response. Symptoms also include allergies that develop from inhaling and from eye contact; “itching, irritation, redness,
pain, and burns,” can also be experienced, said eHow.

EHow pointed out that the European Union (EU) member states are required to stop the sale of items more than 0.1 mg/kg DMF. A number of items, in addition to leather shoes and furniture are on the alert list, which means that these DMF-containing products, some as innocuous as children’s stuffed toys, can be found in many other countries—including the U.S.—often imported from China, said eHow.

The BBC wrote earlier that, in what is believed to have been the largest group consumer action in English history, a High Court judge ordered some High Street sellers to pay up to £20m to customers who suffered chemical burns as a result of contact with their furniture. About 100,000 sofas contaminated with DMF were sold on High Street, said BBC.

The BBC also pointed out that China appears to have been the starting point with DMF being used to prevent mold from contaminating furniture being stored in Asia. Some High Street stores did contact customers to let them know about a “health and safety issue” but did not explain the potential injuries connected to the chemical, explained the BBC.

Once the chemical was brought into homes, it changed into gas, which then burned through clothing, reaching skin, said BBC. In one case, a reaction was so severe, the victim suffered blood poisoning and permanent nerve damage; another consumer missed months of work, wrote the BBC, which said that, in Britain, consumers are not happy with their settlements; they want more action and are calling for a national recall of products contaminated with DMF. Over 1,000 consumers in Europe have reported adverse reactions to products containing DMF.

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