The Korea Herald


Govt. to adopt pre-approval system for biocidal products from 2019

By Catherine Chung

Published : Aug. 8, 2017 - 10:41

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The government said Tuesday it will implement a prior approval system for biocidal products, such as disinfectants, starting in 2019, in a preventive measure after unscreened use of a deadly substance in a household humidifier disinfectant resulted in more than 70 deaths here.

The Ministry of Environment announced the change in two separate legislations regarding the use of harmful chemical substances, which was approved at a Cabinet meeting.

Under the amended rules, any biocides or biocidal products must be screened in advance for safety by the ministry before they go on sale. A seller is required to submit documents detailing the possible toxicity of the substance used in the product. 

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

The vendor will also need to specify all chemical substances and relevant dangers and precautions on the product surface to provide consumers with the right information prior to purchase.

The move comes after 73 South Koreans died from inhaling air from a household humidifier that was regularly cleaned with an anti-bacterial liquid containing polyhexamethylene guanidine. PHMG can be fatal when it's inhaled in the form of droplets.

The scandal, which put its British maker Reckitt Benckiser under intense scrutiny amid huge public fury, is still ongoing with criminal trials for ex-officials and a slew of compensation suits under way. At least 181 South Koreans are known to have been affected by the deadly chemical.

Part of the revised rules has also toughened registration procedures for every home-produced or imported chemical to ensure their safe use and distribution, which will take effect from July next year, according to the ministry. (Yonhap)