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Yvonne Dalton: "The skin just started peeling away"
A judge is expected to order several retailers to pay millions of pounds to people who suffered burns and rashes from faulty leather sofas. The BBC now has evidence that Argos, Walmsleys and Land of Leather, accept liability - subject to it being proved that injuries were caused by the sofas. More than 1,600 people claim to have been affected by the problem. Tens of thousands more people could have burns not yet traced to sofas. The High Street stores, along with 11 others may have to pay more than £10m in compensation and legal costs, the shoppers' lawyers say. They claim that makes it "the largest group compensation claim ever seen in British Courts"
The sofas, which were manufactured in China, were packed with sachets of an anti-mould chemical called dimethyl fumarate to stop them from going mouldy during storage in humid conditions. Commonly known as DMF, the toxic, fine white powder has been used by some manufacturers to protect leather goods like furniture and shoes from mould. Even very small amounts can be harmful.
One sofa customer who is well aware of the health problems caused by her purchase is Yvonne Dalton, who bought a leather sofa suite from Argos in April 2007. Almost a year later she started to notice a rash developing on her arms and legs. After a few weeks her skin started flaking off. She says the irritation was so bad she was off work for two months. Yvonne was seen by more than a dozen doctors, who couldn't work out what was causing the rash. She said: "It was very, very painful - I couldn't sleep at night, I couldn't walk about, I couldn't drive, the fact that every time I did walk about the skin would fall off and I would leave a trail of it - therefore I couldn't go to work."
Yvonne was one of thousands of people who had bought a leather sofa from Argos, Land of Leather, or Walmsleys, and then suffered a severe reaction. For a long time none of those suffering knew it was their sofa causing the problem - so they simply kept sitting on the defective furniture, and worsening their condition.
A dermatologist in Liverpool solved the mystery. After hearing of an increasing number of patients presenting with similar symptoms, the scientist discovered they had all recently bought new leather furniture, which had been packed with chemical sachets in China. The scientist tested the contents of one of the sachets on his skin, and it quickly reacted. Further testing revealed that the sachets contained a chemical called dimethyl fumerate - or DMF - placed inside the sofas to stop them from going mouldy during storage in humid warehouses in Asia. When the sachets get hot, the chemical evaporates into the air - penetrating through the leather and victims' clothing and onto their skin - causing painful blisters and sores.
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- See more at: now8news.com...