Legacy of Toxic Sofas Highlights Need for UK-Wide Injury Database, says TSI
In the wake of an EU ban of the chemical that injured thousands of sofa owners in the UK, the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) is calling for a UK-wide injury database to improve consumer protection.
From 1 May any products containing Dimethyl Fumerate (DMF) will be banned from entering the member states and any such products will also have to be withdrawn from the market.
Since the ‘toxic sofas’ first hit the headlines over a year ago some 2,000 people in the UK have reported skin, chest and eye injuries that can directly be attributed to imported leather furniture containing DMF. The biocide is usually in a sachet from where it evaporates to protect the product from moulds.
While there are increasing reports of injury from a wider range of leather products, such as shoes, riding helmets and even soft toys, none of these products appear to be currently available in the UK. Consumers are however advised to check the EU rapid alert (RAPEX) website to familiarise themselves with the product ranges affected.
TSI's lead officer for product safety Christine Heemskerk said that the EU decision simplified enforcement issues but that a central mechanism to record incidents was needed to improve control over dangerous goods and to better protect consumers.
She said: ‘This illustrates again the importance of a UK-wide injury database which would enable us to monitor the effects of the ban, and a national sampling database to avoid duplication of effort.
‘In accordance with European policy, product safety should be a local government enforcement priority, but there is no national co-ordination or collection of evidence in the UK to support this.
‘For example, when the UK Government is asked by the European Commission for incidents involving the ingestion of magnets from toys and the harm this causes, they can say there have been no recorded incidents in the UK as such incidents are not recorded.’
The lead officer added that consumers should contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040 506 for further advice if they suspect a leather item to contain DMF.
For further information or to arrange an interview please contact the Trading Standards Institute press office by phone on 08456 089 430 or by e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTES TO EDITORS:
RAPEX is the EU rapid alert system for all dangerous consumer products, with the exception of food, pharmaceutical and medical devices. Weekly notifications can be found on:
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