Dimethyl fumarate (DMF) product ban causes confusion

15 May 2009

The recent directive issued by the European Union (2009/251/EC) restricting the import of products that contain dimethyl fumarate is causing confusion among retailers and importers of consumer goods.

Dimethyl fumarate is a biocide used to prevent mould growth on products during transit or storage and is most frequently supplied in the form of a permeable paper sachet through which the chemical will be released. Dimethyl fumarate is recognized as a potential skin irritant and has been implicated in cases of contact dermatitis from furniture and footwear in several EU countries.

Satra Technology Centre are finding that problems are arising because dimethyl fumarate is often abbreviated to DMF which is also used as an abbreviation for dimethyl formamide, a solvent associated with the manufacture of polyurethanes which is harmful by inhalation. Dimethyl formamide is not banned, but restrictions do exist through the system of workplace exposure limits (WELs) on exposure of workers who may have to deal with it during manufacture.

As dimethyl fumarate is supplied in paper sachets some of Satra's customers have been asking whether this affects silica gel. Silica gel is a desiccant designed to reduce the moisture in the atmosphere around packaged goods to limit the potential for mould growth. Satra have not found any sachets of silica gel, which have been contaminated with dimethyl fumarate, nor have we seen any sachets incorrectly labeled one for the other. They advise manufacturers, importers and retailers to establish that the correct sachet is being packaged with the product. It is also worth mentioning that any silica gel used should be clear as the pigment used in blue-pink silica gel is a recognised carcinogen.

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