Judgement close on Chinese leather product injuries

27 March 2009

Following a ban on the use dimethyl fumarate (DMF) by the European Union on goods made in Europe as well as those made outside the EU (due to come into effect in May). Thousands of consumers have complained of blisters, sores and rashes to the skin, and eye irritations following the purchase of leather furniture and leather products made in China.

Following the news story published in March edition of Leather International (page 5). An update has been released by legal firms taking a group action against several retailers which has been reported on the BBC's news website as well as on the television.

Despite the fact that the contamination of leather furniture and footwear manufactured in China was been caused by packets placed on and within products shipped to Europe from China and not in the leather manufacture itself, it is bound to reflect badly on the industry. The practice of placing DMF in leather products has now stopped and new purchases are deemed safe.

However, a UK judge is anticipated to order several retailers to pay millions of pounds to 1,675 people who suffered burns and rashes from leather furniture packed with the sachets containing DMF. Other people are expected to come forward following an advertisement placed in eight national newspapers by the firm acting for the victims.

According to the BBC, Argos, Land of Leather, Walmsleys, and 11 other stores may have to pay more than £10 ($14.2) million in compensation and legal costs, the consumers' lawyers say.

The lawyers say it is already ‘the largest group consumer compensation claim ever seen in British courts'.

A dermatologist in Liverpool solved the mystery. After hearing of an increasing number of patients presenting similar symptoms, the scientist discovered they had all recently purchased leather furniture, which had been packed with the mould preventing, chemical sachets in China. The scientist tested the contents of one of the sachets on his skin, and it quickly reacted.


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