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Government to recall 61 problematic air filters

July 21,2016
The government announced Wednesday that it would launch a recall for air purification products and automobile air-conditioning systems after a toxic chemical substance was discovered in the filters.

The Ministry of Environment released a list of 61 filters that contained the toxic chemical substance Octylisothiazolinone (OIT) and said that 60 of them were manufactured by 3M. The filters were used in air purification products made by popular brands including Cuckoo, LG, Samsung and Coway. Hyundai Mobis and Doowon also used the filters to make vehicle air conditioning systems.

“We have tested whether filters contain toxic chemical substances and whether the chemical is released into air for five days,” said Hong Jung-seop, a director at the ministry. “We did find out that OIT is released into the air when they operate and we will cooperate with other government branches to recall them accordingly.”

In fact, 3M already has announced it will recall filters containing OIT, the ministry said. Coway, in a press release on Wednesday, said the company is not using the filters in Korea.

The Environment Minister said 24 percent to 46 percent of the chemicals in the air purification products’ filters were released into air within five days. As much as 76 percent of the chemical in car air-conditioners was released in five days. This suggests that most of the OIT in new filters will eventually be released.

The ministry inspected the air purification products for 120 consecutive hours, including operating a car’s air conditioning system at its maximum level for up to eight hours. It isn’t clear if the chemical is harmful to humans.

“We didn’t find significant OIT’s toxicity risk in the air but we will discuss this matter with experts to find what it can do to the human body,” Hong said. “We will also look into whether air conditioners for home contain OIT as well.”

Meanwhile, the ministry’s inspection came after local media reports last month raised concerns over the OIT issues in filters.


BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]


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