SK Chemical Co. and two other firms were fined for providing insufficient and misleading information on its humidifier sterilizer products, the country's corporate watchdog said Monday.
The Fair Trade Commission said it has decided to levy a total of 134 million won ($124,000) in fines on SK Chemical, Aekyung Industrial Co. and E-Mart Co. for manufacturing and selling humidifier sterilizer without informing consumers of possible health hazards.
In December of last year, the FTC reopened its probe into local humidifier sterilizer firms as its task force found some procedural loopholes in a previous investigation regarding their failure to inform consumers of possible health hazards.
The FTC had earlier closed its inspection of two local humidifier sterilizer manufacturers, citing a lack of evidence, amid a ballooning toxic disinfectant scandal that resulted in numerous deaths and illnesses here.
SK Chemical allegedly manufactured and sold humidifier cleansers using the chemicals chloro-methylisothiazolinone and methylisothiazolinone between 2002 and 2013.
The FTC had accused the firm of not indicating the health risks of such chemicals on their products as the humidifier disinfectant case, one of the worst scandals involving a consumer product using poisonous chemicals, made headlines in South Korea.
The FTC set up a task force to reexamine the case as the country's environment ministry said the chemicals used as disinfectants are indeed hazardous to human health.
"We sincerely apologize to the victims of the humidifier disinfectant cases," FTC Chairman Kim Sang-jo said during a press meeting. "We once again regret for failing to do our duties to protect the lives of people."
In its earlier examination, the FTC filed charges of false advertising against Oxy Reckitt Benckiser, the South Korean unit of the British company Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC.
The company had sold home humidifier sterilizers using other chemicals, such as polyhexamethylene guanidine, known to cause death when inhaled, without making proper warnings.
The South Korean prosecution has launched an investigation into the company as more than 100 deaths here have reportedly been connected to Oxy's humidifier disinfectants. (Yonhap)