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Over the past year the presence of dimethylfumarate (DMF) sachets used by manufacturers in the Far East to protect leather sofas from mould growth has caused major issues for furniture retailers around Europe.

It’s understood that the DMF was absorbed into the leather products such as furniture and footwear which were packaged with DMF sachets.  This resulted in some users having health issues such as skin irritation, redness, and burns and in some cases acute breathing problems.

Studies undertaken in Europe have concluded that DMF is hazardous to health. Therefore to reduce the risk of injury to the consumer the EU has taken an Article 13 Decision under the General Safety Product Directive, to effectively ban the use of DMF in all furniture and footwear sold in Europe.

The Decision, which is fully binding in the Members States, was passed on the 17 March 2009 and must be implemented by them no later than 01 May 2009. The new requirement limits the allowable amount of DMF in a product to 0.1mg/kg or less.

The Decision is retrospective thereby, banning any new product containing DMF entering the market, as well as ensuring that any products already on the market are withdrawn from sale. Alternatively, any affected product with the consumer, will be recalled and disposed of, and consumers will be made aware of the risk from such products.

This may seem a huge burden to place on the industry but in reality, with all the media exposure to date, most UK  retailers and importers have already taken action in line with this new law.

This new legal requirement is an interim measure before more stringent restrictions can be placed on DMF under the   REACH regulations currently being introduced.

             Source: FIRA