Press releases

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Dimethyl Fumerate (DMF) will be banned from entering the member states and any such products will also have to be withdrawn from the market.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.

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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 pressoffice@tsi.org.uk

 

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:
http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/dyna/rapex/rapex_archives_en.cfm

Trading Standards Institute
Trading Standards Institute has represented the interests of Trading Standards professionals for 120 years. We have a long and proud history of ensuring that the views of our members are well represented at the highest level of government, both nationally and internationally.
Our aim is to promote excellence and enhance the professionalism of our members in support of empowering and informing consumers, encouraging and working with honest businesses, targeting rogue traders and rogue trading practices and contributing to the health, welfare and wellbeing of citizens and communities.
TSI members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities in response to 2 million consumer and business complaints and enquiries each year. They also support the delivery of new initiatives such as Consumer Direct, providing first point of contact practical consumer advice.
They also work in the business, consumer and central government sectors in promoting and influencing the safety, prosperity and enhancement of individuals and markets with a dependency on effective and professional trading standards contributions and interventions.

Consumer Direct

Consumer Direct is a Government-backed telephone and online consumer advice service that works in partnership with the local authority trading standards services.  It provides clear, practical and impartial advice and information to help consumers resolve problems and disagreements with suppliers of goods and services.  Consumer Direct is available from 0800-1830 Monday to Friday, and 0900-1300 Saturday, excluding bank and public holidays.
Calls cost a maximum of 4 pence per minute from a BT landline. Calls from mobiles or other networks may vary. Your service provider may charge a minimum cost per call.  The advice and information given is free.

The press office number is 020 7211 8133.