|

Is your leather sofa making you sick?

Consumer Reports News: May 19, 2009 12:48 PM

We’ve been following some interesting safety news from across the pond. The BBC News in the United Kingdom has been reporting that more than 1,600 people have suffered skin rashes and chemical burns from their new Chinese-made leather sofas. Reports say that one person has died.

After investigation, it was found that the couches were packed with sachets containing dimethly fumarate (DMF), an antifungal agent intended to prevent the leather from getting moldy during storage and shipment from China. The chemical evaporates, penetrating the leather and can transfer to clothing and skin. Even small levels of exposure can cause serious skin sores, blisters, rashes and eye irritation. And some victims have reported that their problems have persisted long after the couch has been put on the curb.

On May 1, the European Union and British governments ordered a recall of all products containing dimethyl fumarate.

We wonder if the problem has worked its way into the North American market since much of our furniture is imported from China. I asked the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission if they had received consumer complaints about leather sofas, but they were not aware of any problems.

Unless, that is, you count "Uh, Oh Canada" a recent episode of "King of the Hill" in which a guest complains of getting a rash from sitting on Hank's and Peggy's new sofa. "Probably the petrochemicals in the synthetic fiber," the guest scoffs.

But from what we're hearing, this is nothing to scoff at. If you've experienced any skin rashes that you suspect may be related to new leather furniture, let us know by commenting on this blog. You should also file a complaint with the manufacturer and the CPSC.—Don Mays

   

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Latest From Consumer Reports

CR092K15-Robocalls-Digitone-ID
RAGE AGAINST ROBOCALLS
Robocall blocker review: Users tell you what worksVideo Is there any way to eliminate those incessant, maddening calls?
Audio & video Cats Bose Electronics Wireless speakers Electronics & computers Wireless speakers
WIRELESS SPEAKER REVIEWS
8 best electronics for tricked-out dorm rooms These top-performing gadgets will help students work hard and relax easy.
HEALTH NEWS
Safe at home: What to look for in a medical alert system These devices offer peace of mind, but the monthly costs can add up.
Laundry detergents
LAUNDRY DETERGENT REVIEWS
Head-to-head: How Persil compares to top-rated Tide The European challenger has a slight edge over America's favorite detergent.
GAS GRILL REVIEWS
3 high-end gas grills with low marks in grilling tests The only hot thing about these grills? Their high-price: $800 to $1,800.
TIRE REVIEWS
How to choose the best tires for your car, SUV, or truck It doesn't pay to skimp when buying replacement tires for your ride.
Consumer Reports
ABOUT CONSUMER REPORTS
Interested in joining the Consumer Reports Board Get details on applying for service on our board of directors.

Connect

and safety with
subscribers and fans

Follow us on:

Cars

Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings

Mobile

Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more