The Korea Herald


More potential victims of humidifier disinfectants reported

By 이현정

Published : Dec. 15, 2015 - 19:25

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Hundreds of more potential victims of toxic humidifier disinfectants were reported over the past month amid concerns over the government’s move to stop receiving health damage reports from next year, a civic group said Tuesday.

The Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health said a total of 310 potential victims made health complaints to the Environment Ministry to join the third round of the public health investigation into the humidifier disinfectant impacts. Of them, 38 were reported by the families of those who had already died.

The government has carried out two investigations into the causality between personal health problems and the humidifier disinfectant upon their request since July 2013 after four pregnant women consecutively died of a mysterious lung-related illness in 2011.

The health authorities had confirmed a “significant association” between lung damage and the humidifier disinfectant use.

Of 530 users questioned, 221 were confirmed to have suffered humidifier disinfectant impacts.

Most of the victims were found to have used Oxy Ssak Ssak, produced by British company Reckitt Benckiser. Oxy Ssak Ssak and other similar products were later withdrawn from the local market.

Earlier last month, however, the government said it would no longer receive health complaints over the problematic humidifier disinfectant from next year. It has urged potential victims to submit their reports by this month if they want a health probe.

The third round of investigations will be launched next year, officials said.

If health causality is confirmed, the government will cover medical and funeral costs.

The government’s move stirred public concerns that the deadline could leave out potential victims who may have health problems in the future.

As part of the efforts to find as many potential victims as possible and raise awareness of the report deadline, the civic group launched a campaign last month. The number of reports have more than quadrupled with the campaign, the civic group said.

“Considering a study result that the number of potential victims could be in the millions, the government should not set a deadline, but is continuously receiving the damage reports,” said ACCEH head Choi Ye-yong.

According to a government report in 2011, nearly 9 million Koreans were estimated to have been exposed to humidifier disinfectants since 1994.

Meanwhile, eight confirmed victims are currently seeking compensation against the state and Reckitt Benckiser.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (