EU to ban DMF in consumer products

The use of the biocide (DMF) dimethylfumarate - which has caused severe allergic reactions in hundreds of consumers, because of its use in every day consumer products such as couches and shoes - looks set to be banned across the EU. Today, Member States voted in favor of a draft European Commission Decision to ensure that consumer products, such as leather furniture or footwear, containing the strongly sensitising (DMF) are not placed on the market in the EU.Dimethylfumarate (DMF) is a fungicide that manufacturers use for maritime transport and the storage of consumer goods. The DMF can cause acute dermatitis, eczema, and general fatigue to the persons who have been in contact with this substance.

Dimethyl fumarate has been found to be an allergic sensitizer at very low concentrations, producing extensive, pronounced eczema that is difficult to treat. Concentrations as low as 1 ppm may produce allergic reactions

If already on the market, these products will have to be recalled and withdrawn without delay. The extreme sensitizing risk was brought to public attention by the "poison chair" incident, where Chinese manufacturer Linkwise produced two-seater sofas with dimethyl fumarate sachets inside to inhibit mould while they were in storage or transport

Based on the draft decision of the European Commission 

COMMISSION DECISION         IP/09/190    Date:  29/01/2009
requiring Member States to ensure that products containing the biocide dimethylfumarate are not placed or made available on the market

The following steps are being recommended in the draft and should be followed with immediate effect.

  1. As of 1 May 2009 Member States shall ensure that products containing DMF are prohibited from being placed or made available on the market
  2. As of 1 May 2009 Member States shall ensure that products containing DMF and already placed or made available on the market are withdrawn from the market and recalled from consumers, and that consumers are adequately informed of the risk posed by such products.
  3. Member States shall inform the Commission without delay of the measures taken under this Article in accordance with Article 12 of Directive 2001/95/EC.

As an importer and/or retailer you are responsible of the launching of your products. Recognized quality problems endanger your corporate brand, risk proceedings from consumers. We, the FESI is recommending all members to check whether dimethylfumarate is being in use at their corresponsig suppliers. Dimethylfumarate normally comes in sachets and is being placed together with the leather products in the packaging.

We advice our members as well to update their Restricted Substances List, RSL, in terms of dimethyfumarate and to prohibit the use of this substances with immediate effect. Therefore, we advice you to contact your trusted testing organizations for arranging a testing for DMF in your leather products accordingly.

Reiner Hengstmann / FESI environmental committee chair , 03.02.2009