18 home spray products deemed to be unsafe

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18 home spray products deemed to be unsafe

In the wake of the scandal over Oxy and other humidifier sterilizers, which killed over 95 people and sickened more than 221, concerns rose in the general public that other common household products could be hazardous to the health.

Last year, the government began inspecting some 23,000 products on the domestic market and decided to pull 18, according to an announcement Tuesday.

After it was discovered last year that humidifier sterilizers contained hazardous chemicals such as polyhexamethylene guanidine, the government looked for other products with toxic ingredients.

It launched a task force led by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy November last year.

“The inspection was done as a follow-up measure to prevent another consumer tragedy like the Oxy sterilizer case and we plan to complete our inspection by this year,” said Bae Jin-suk, a director of the consumer goods division of the trade ministry. “If we discovered they have potentially detrimental substances, we would take necessary steps.”

The task force began screening 19 different types of items, or 23,388 products in total, last June including air fresheners, bathroom and kitchen sprays, deodorizers and antifreeze.

The task force finished its analysis on three sprays - air fresheners, bathroom and kitchen cleaning sprays and deodorizers - and concluded that 18 spray-based products failed to meet the safety criteria.

“We prioritized items sold as sprays, which are inhaled into a person’s body more easily,” reported the task force.

On the 18 products, the task force notified the producers and suggested they pull these products from the market.

“If they do not take our suggestion, we will order them to stop producing and selling these products,” said Ryu Pil-moo, a director of the Chemicals Safety Task Force of the environment ministry.

Still, some experts question whether the inspection was really able to get to the bottom of the products’ safety.

“Out of 439 biocides found in spray-type products, we only had reliable data on 55 of them,” Ryu explained, adding the task force searched through databases in and outside of Korea.

“This means that not just in our country but internationally, we are still in the early stage of learning how to manage and control biocides that could be detrimental to human health.”

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]
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