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South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - 28 fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals confirmed

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    http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news...16_204716.html Former CEO of Oxy Reckitt Benckiser arrested

    By Park Si-soo

    A former CEO of Oxy Reckitt Benckiser and two former senior researchers of the company were arrested Saturday for their alleged lack of responsibility for toxic test for chemicals used in the firm's mass-produced humidifier sterilizers that caused the deaths of some 104 people, including pregnant women, since 2011.

    [snip]



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  • Emily
    replied
    http://www.usnews.com/news/business/...ly-sterilizers
    Reckitt Benckiser Apologizes

    British consumer goods company has apologized and accepted responsibility for disinfectants that killed or injured hundreds.

    May 2, 2016, at 5:37 a.m.

    By YOUKYUNG LEE, AP Business Writer
    SEOUL, South Korea (AP)

    ...
    Ataur Safdar, head of the company's Korean division, said the company accepted responsibility and wanted to make amends. He spoke at a news conference, where he was interrupted by angry and tearful victims and family members who cursed and hit him.

    A teenager with a big, green oxygen tank, and four other people who were apparently victims or their families, walked to the stage to confront Safdar.
    "Can you save the child? What are you going to do?" said a woman, in a scene broadcast live on television. "Why did it take so long?" a man said.
    ...

    The health risks from the disinfectants came to attention in 2011 with mysterious lung ailments that killed pregnant women. Later that year, authorities said the chemicals PHMG and PGH in the disinfectants that many South Korean households used to cleanse humidifiers were to blame.
    ... Civic groups said the government tally understates the number of victims. They estimate that the disinfectants killed 239 and injured 1,289. Officials are investigating and expect more applications for compensation.
    Reckitt Benckiser sold millions of bottles of liquid disinfectant, called Oxy Ssak Ssak, containing the harmful chemicals for about a decade and was blamed for 100 deaths...

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    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    http://www.koreaherald.com/national/...20111114000676

    Patients overused humidifier-sterilizers’
    2011-11-14 20:17

    Victims said they used disinfectants throughout winter or while sleeping in enclosed spaces


    Patients believed to have fallen ill because of humidifier-sterilizers had used the agents excessively over a long period of time, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday.

    According to its latest report, 18 patients who have been treated for lung inflammation at Asan Medical Center said they used an average of 820 milliliters of sterilizers every month.

    The amount is equivalent to double the industry recommendation of 10 ml a day. The average period of use was 4.5 months a year for 3.4 years, the report said.

    The respondents said they were concerned that the use of unsterilized humidifiers could damage their health and had used large amounts of sterilizer to keep the devices clean.

    The sterilizers distributed here are mixed with water and vaporized in the air for a long period of time. Six of them use polyhexamethylene guanidine phosphate or Oligo 2-(2-ethoxy) ethoxyethyl guanidinium chloride. The chemicals are believed to have caused inflammation of the lungs.

    “Many of the patients started using the sterilizers because they use humidifiers throughout the winter when they were pregnant or after giving birth. Some men used it to soothe their respiratory diseases that get worse in a dry environment,” the report wrote.

    “Most of them used the agent during sleep but some used it all day long. Since it was winter, many of the patients tend to keep the door closed, which could have concentrated the sterilizers in the air,” it added.

    A total of 28 people are presumed to have died of the disease, of which six have been acknowledged by the government. The Ministry of Health and Welfare has ordered a recall of six brands on the market.

    Meanwhile, a government-affliated agency has come under fire for certifying one of the recalled sterilizers as safe.

    The health ministry said Monday that one of the brands ordered for a recall, Gaseupgi Clean up, gained the Korea Certification Mark by the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards, an affiliate of the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

    “Before, humidifier-sterilizers were classified as industrial product, which are exempt from tests on human respiratory organs,” said a health official.

    The health ministry said earlier that all humidifier-sterilizers will be designated quasi-drugs subject to monitoring and regulation by the Korea Food and Drug Administration.

    By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldm.com)

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    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    http://www.arirang.co.kr/News/News_V...Ne2&category=2

    lth Ministry Faults Six Humidifier Disinfectants for Lung Damage



    Thank you for staying with us,
    Health authorities in Korea have confirmed that, sterilizers used in household humidifiers, are the source of recent cases involving unknown acute respiratory diseases.
    According to the health ministry today, lab results pointed to a relation between the lung damage that claimed the lives of several Koreans and SIX humidifier disinfectant products.
    The six are,Oxy Sacsac, Cefu, Wiselect, Choeun Sangpoom, At-organic, and Clean-up.
    The ministry added that it called on other ministries to cooperate in the recalling process of the six humidifier sterilizers beginning next Tuesday
    .

    NOV 11, 2011

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    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    I don't think this is the chemical suspected in the ProMED post.

    http://english.donga.com/srv/service...=2011111475918

    Lethal humidifier sterilizers


    NOVEMBER 14, 2011 05:03
    In the American TV drama “CSI,” forensic investigators catch criminals by analyzing a bullet’s trajectory or tracing an insect or plant attached to a victim’s body. In another American drama “House” about an eccentric physician, a medical team begins its work by finding the cause of an infection at a patient’s residence. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says humidifier sterilizers are the cause of lung damage that led to the deaths of nine infants and pregnant women, including four pregnant women in April and May.

    A humidifier sterilizer containing PHMG and PHG made the lungs of a mouse swell and made the animal difficult to breathe, the same symptoms as those who died from lung damage suffered. The safety test for humidifier sterilizers should have been conducted since they are inhaled by humans. Yet no safety test was conducted and led to the deaths. The manufacturers of humidifier sterilizers and related organizations should be held accountable as they either failed to recognize the dangers to human health or took the threat lightly.

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    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    http://www.promedmail.org/

    Published Date: 2011-11-10 09:03:39
    Subject: PRO/EDR> Pulmonary fibrosis - South Korea (04): (Seoul) RFI
    Archive Number: 20111110.3331

    PULMONARY FIBROSIS - SOUTH KOREA (04): (SEOUL) REQUEST FOR INFORMATION
    ************************************************** ********************

    A ProMED-mail post
    http://www.promedmail.org
    ProMED-mail is a program of the
    International Society for Infectious Diseases
    http://www.isid.org

    [1]Date: Sun 6 Nov 2011Source: The Liberty Times [edited] [in Korean, trans., edited]http://iservice.libertytimes.com.tw/liveNews/news.php?no=564208&type=%E5%9C%8B%E9%9A%9B


    South Korean Health and Welfare Ministry Disease Control Division
    confirmed on 4 Nov 2011 that sterilizing agents added to humidifiers
    were the cause of a lung disease cluster and strongly urged people not
    use such agents with humidifiers.

    [The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- KCDC]
    reported that investigations had shown that antiseptics used with
    humidifiers were highly associated with a number of lung injury cases.
    Therefore, in September 2011, they conducted experiments using mice
    (rats?), allowing experimental animals to inhale antiseptics from
    humidifiers. Necropsy of these animals showed pulmonary fibrosis
    similar to those found in humans.

    An expert panel will convene shortly to discuss the association
    between these antiseptics and disease. Once the association has been
    confirmed, sales of the antiseptics for humidifiers will be banned.
    Because humidifier use is increased in the fall and winter, Health and
    Welfare Ministry strongly urges to discontinue the sale and use of
    these agents.

    The report pointed out that a cluster of lung disease of unknown cause
    was reported in April 2011, causing panic. Disease Control Division
    reported in August 2011 that antiseptics or cleaners for humidifiers
    were likely to be associated with lung disease.

    Korean news reports that since August 2011, antiseptics for
    humidifiers have been taken off the shelves. It is hard to find these
    agents on the market now.

    --
    Communicated by:
    ProMED-mail Rapporteur Angela Huang

    ******
    [2]
    Date: Thu 1 Sep 2011
    Source: Google, Agence France-Presse (AFP) report [edited]
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...ac68dae4b5.771


    Steriliser blamed for mysterious South Korean deaths
    ----------------------------------------------------
    A sterilising agent for home humidifiers probably caused the
    mysterious deaths of 4 pregnant women, an official with a South Korean
    health agency said Thursday [1 Sep 2011].

    The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) began
    investigating after 28 cases of lung disease with unknown causes were
    reported since 2004, many of them this year [2011] and involving
    pregnant women, 4 of whom died earlier this year.

    The agency said tests showed that a harmful substance in a steriliser
    -- used by all the patients in their humidifiers -- could seriously
    damage lung cells.

    Tests showed that those who added the steriliser to their humidifiers
    were 47.3 times more likely to get lung damage than those who did not,
    KCDC said in a statement.

    "The odds ratio of 47.3, clinically speaking, is exceptionally high
    and rare," Youn Seung-Ki, a senior KCDC official, told AFP on Thursday
    [1 Sep 2011].

    KCDC refused to identify the harmful substance in the steriliser,
    which it said was widely used in other goods like shampoo and
    cosmetics, saying it could not verify whether the substance was also
    harmful through skin contact.

    "We still need more tests to reach a concrete final conclusion. But we
    have decided, as a precaution, to urge people against using humidifier
    steriliser and companies from selling the products," it said in a
    statement.

    Major steriliser producers had agreed to suspend sales until the final
    result of the agency's probe comes out in about 3 months, Youn said.

    "The patients added the steriliser whenever they replaced water in the
    humidifiers and used a whole bottle (of steriliser) a month on
    average," KCDC said.

    South Korean households often use humidifiers during the long, cold,
    and dry winter.

    The agency said pregnant women spend more time resting at home,
    increasing their exposure to air from the humidifiers. Women also
    inhale about 30 percent more air after childbirth, meaning they could
    be more at risk at that time.

    About 600 000 units of humidifier steriliser worth 2 billion won (USD
    1.8 million) are sold every year in South Korea. Makers of the product
    say it helps remove bacteria and dirt from the water before it is
    released into the air.

    --
    Communicated by:
    ProMED-mail


    [A HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of South Korea can be seen at
    http://healthmap.org/r/1qmT. - Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ]

    [An antiseptic, or disinfectant for humidifiers in this case must be
    of some chemical component. The article in [2] mentions that the
    substance is used in shampoos and cosmetics. The most frequent
    compound that I can think of is sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS or NaDS),
    sodium laurilsulfate, or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). It is generally
    used as an agent for lather, as in soap, or as a degreaser for
    components such as engine cleaners. They are often mixed with coconut
    or palm oils or other cheap oils for mixture in various domestic
    products.

    SLS has been effectively used as a microbicide. It is believed to be
    effective against a number of viruses, including HIV.

    Please understand, I am NOT saying this is the substance being used in
    these humidifiers, I am only suggesting it as a possibility based on
    information in the article.

    We would appreciate some information regarding the mystery substance
    in the cleaner, or antiseptic used in these humidifiers
    . - Mod.TG]

    Leave a comment:


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    replied
    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    http://www.koreaherald.com/national/...20111101000817

    A civic group on Tuesday alleged that a total of 18 people have died from a mysterious strain of pulmonary disease caused by a humidifier sterilizer, a death toll far higher than the government estimated. The activists disclosed 50 additional damage reports and urged the administration to ban the sales of the sterilizers. According to the Asian Citizens’ Center for Environment and Health, a total of 18 people -- one fetus, 14 infants, two children and one pregnant woman -- are very likely to have died of the pulmonary infection caused by the sterilizers. “The government and civic activists are conducting animal tests separately to verify the facts. But we are sure that inhaling evaporated sterilizers and consequent health risks are closely related,” said Prof. Lim Jong-han of Inha University School of Medicine. “The test will only show to what extent problem agents must have damaged people’s health,” he added, calling for the government to issue recall orders for all humidifier sterilizers and control them from the manufacturing stage. Currently, there is no regulation on the humidifier sterilizer. Kang Chang-ho, a member of the victims’ group, claimed that the risk of the sterilizer was forewarned long ago. “Back in 1998, a gastroenterology academia raised the issue and called for thorough investigation into their correlations. It seems that similar accidents happened at that time,” he said. The sterilizers drew public attention when the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that a group of medical experts have reached a provisional conclusion that a substance in humidifier disinfectant, when inhaled, is 47.3 times more likely to have caused the lung disease in August. The government acknowledged six related deaths. “The very small water particles emitting from the humidifier easily reach deep into the lung. If chemical or other harmful materials are carried by the particles, the damage takes place directly to the lung,” said ACCEH in its press release. “That is why large hospitals refrain from using humidifiers, though controlling the humidity in the ward is essential in medical care,” it said, calling for the government to disclose its relevant test results in the near future.

    Leave a comment:


  • alert
    replied
    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    It seems clear that the KCDC has gotten this one right now. I am moving this thread to the "Other Respiratory Diseases" forum, assuming it is okay with everyone else here, as it seems clear that this outbreak is not the result of influenza or other viral infection.

    I still await a very interesting ProMED post...

    Leave a comment:


  • Emily
    replied
    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    A man in Korea posts here that he thinks that his wife and baby had a bad reaction to the chemicals added to a humidifier:

    http://forums.eslcafe.com/korea/viewtopic.php?p=2693905

    This article says that KCDC will do a formal study for 3 months:

    http://english.cntv.cn/20110831/110988.shtml

    Leave a comment:


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    replied
    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    This does not appear to be a Korean source.

    http://www.businessghana.com/portal/..._id=&id=152830

    Gov't dismisses direct link between sterilizer and lung ailment
    News Date: 20th September 2011


    The government on Tuesday dismissed an attempt by an environmental group to blame a sterilizer used in household humidifiers for the recent outbreak of a mysterious lung disease that has claimed at least five lives so far, saying more tests are still needed to establish the link.

    The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) earlier said the sterilizer may have been the cause of the disease, at least in the latest case that affected 17 people, mostly young mothers who had just given birth and their infants.

    An environmental group claimed there have been other similar cases where humidifier sterilizers must have been the main cause of the lung damage.

    The KCDC countered that there may have been other similar cases, but that it was still too early to establish a direct link between sterilizers and the disease.

    "The KCDC is conducting a study to find a causal link between the two, which includes reviewing all similar cases filed since 1997 when sterilizers were put on the market," Kwon Jun-wook, a KCDC official, said.

    The official said the cases cited by the environmental group will also be reviewed as long as they have the clinical records for the alleged cases.

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    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    http://www.arirang.co.kr/News/News_V...Ne2&category=2

    Updated : September 21, 2011

    Humidifier Sterilizer Kills 5 Infants in Korea



    Recent research shows five infants and one woman who recently gave birth to a child DIED of lung diseases in Korea due to humidifier sterilizers.
    The Asian Citizen's Center for Environment and Health revealed cases of infant patients between the age of one and four who died from acute respiratory diseases or pneumonitis after being exposed to humidifier disinfectants while asleep.
    Also, a woman died from adult respiratory distress syndrome two months after being hospitalized while another woman is currently under treatment for pneumonitis after using such sterilizers.
    The center says excessive use of the sterilizing chemicals can be life-threatening and adds that the actual number of infections caused by these disinfectants is expected to be higher
    .

    SEP 21, 2011

    Leave a comment:


  • Emily
    replied
    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    From post #122

    The authorities said they will designate humidifier disinfectants as quasi-drugs whose safety will be closely monitored by the Korea Food and Drug Administration.
    I'm glad they are doing that. This must be a powerful chemical if it had this effect just from residual traces from cleaning, rather than an additive to the water used to humidify rooms.

    I'm wondering now if a chemical like this is being used in charcoal/zeolite filters in air cleaners some people have been complaining about here in the U.S. Some people think it is a glue or plastic odor, but I had a unit like this and the fumes were definitely coming from the filter.

    The fumes make some people dizzy, (me included), or are at least noxious enough so people are out-gassing the units for days on balconies prior to using them inside.

    There should be more oversight of chemicals used in devices like this.

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    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    The details on which patients survived and which did not are below:

    http://news.chosun.com/site/data/htm...083100837.html

    Idiopathic lung, humidifier seems due to fungicide
    Reporter Lisa Lee

    Input: 31/08/2011 11:03 / Revision: 08/31/2011 13:09
    Centers for Disease Control last May of cause lung damage caused by an unknown cause of maternal mortality was appointed humidifier fungicides.

    In May, unidentified group of six pregnant women hospitalized with pneumonia and died on an epidemiological survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and the "is not a pandemic virus is not a disease," he said. However, the exact cause has not been identified.

    Centers for Disease Control from 2004 to 2011 by the medical institution A with idiopathic lung injury, 18 patients admitted to the survey, using a humidifier fungicides idiopathic pulmonary 47.3 times higher probability of damage have found that the 31 days said.

    Centers for Disease Control and must refrain from using a humidifier disinfectant manufacturers to refrain from the humidifier has recommended the release of disinfectant.

    Today's announcement, Health and Human Services a "designated as quasi-humidifiers and disinfectants safely ignore for the supervision of the manufacturer or building management systems, and will determine the safety," said " Knowledge Economy , Ministry of consultation such as inhalation of the product safety management, all possible I'll check, "he said.

    Centers for Disease Control and the "future humidifier bacteria of animal inhalation experiments I'll go further," said "Animal toxicity studies are expected to take at least three months," he said.

    With this announcement, the domestic market for one billion won in the disinfectant known humidifier seems to be hit.

    [Idiopathic lung injury deaths journal]

    ▲ 2011 in Seoul in late April = A hospital in ICU patients with acute respiratory failure itttara hospitalized pregnant women.
    Received a request with the survey reported.

    ▲ 〃 5 월 8 days = 6 patients unexplained lung check.

    ▲ 〃 5 월 10 days = 34 years of inpatient death for women (April 12 hospitalizations).
    The first recorded deaths due to unknown causes pyesonsangeuro.

    ▲ 〃 5 월 11 days = tests mibalgyeon [rule out?] directly related to the pandemic pathogen.
    Health authorities, as non-provisional conclusions influenza infection.

    ▲ 〃 5 월 26 days = 32-year-old woman died (April 21 hospitalizations).
    30-year-old female hospital (May 13 hospitalizations).

    ▲ 〃 6 월 10 days = 34-year-old woman died (May 6 admission).

    ▲ 〃 6 월 12 days = first confirmed cases in family outbreaks.

    ▲ 〃 6 월 14 days = 36-year-old woman died (April 16 hospitalizations).

    ▲ 〃 6 월 20 days = after 43-year-old male lung transplant hospital (April 1 admission).

    ▲ 〃 7 월 2 days = 29 years old women after lung transplant hospital (April 12 hospitalizations).

    ▲ 〃 8 월 22 days = 39-year-old woman after a lung transplant hospital (April 26 hospitalizations).

    ▲ 〃 8 월 31 days = Ministry of Health released results of epidemiological studies. Humidifiers fungicides estimated risk factors.

    Leave a comment:


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    replied
    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    http://afludiary.blogspot.com/2011/0...pneumonia.html

    Thursday, September 01, 2011
    Follow Up On Korea’s `Mystery Pneumonia’

    # 5801


    Nearly 4 months ago, in The Korean `Mystery’ Pneumonia, I wrote about confusing, incomplete, and sometimes contradictory reports regarding a number of pregnant women in a Seoul Hospital with a `mystery’ respiratory virus.



    At the time, there were 8 pregnant women, and 1 man - who came from different hospitals and clinics across Korea – suffering from an unusually aggressive (and rapidly fulminating) form of Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) – a scaring and stiffening of lung tissue without a known cause that normally takes months or years to manifest.



    For more background on this story, FluTrackers has maintained this extensive thread with more than 120 entries to date.



    Although this disease was being referred to as a `mystery virus’ in the media, its exact etiology (viral, bacterial, fungal, or environmental) was unknown.



    After some impressive epidemiological detective work, the KCDC (Korea Centers For Disease Control) believes they have found a link between the use of a specific type of sterilizing fluid used in home humidifiers and this illness.



    While not yet able to establish a firm cause-and-effect relationship between exposure to fumes from this sterilizer and this respiratory disease, they have found that those who were exposed to it in their home humidifier were 47 times more likely to develop the condition than a control group.



    The exact chemical used in this sterilizing solution was not specified by the KCDC. For now they are urging the public not to use chemical disinfectants in their home humidifiers, and to change the water daily and clean them with detergent instead.



    The KCDC said that pregnant women were likely more susceptible to this lung damage because they spent more time at home resting, and because they tended to take deeper breaths.



    A full report from the KCDC is expected in the coming months.



    A couple of news items on this story include:


    Mystery malady traced to fluid in humidifiers – Korea JoongAng Daily
    Steriliser blamed for mysterious S. Korean deaths – AFP

    Posted by Michael Coston at 7:31 AM

    Leave a comment:


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    replied
    Re: South Korea - Patients reportedly with "mysterious" respiratory illness - several fatalities reported - exposure to toxic humidifier chemicals suspected

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...ac68dae4b5.771

    Steriliser blamed for mysterious S. Korean deaths
    (AFP) – 2 hours ago
    SEOUL — A sterilising agent for home humidifiers probably caused the mysterious deaths of four pregnant women, an official with a South Korean health agency said Thursday.

    The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) began investigating after 28 cases of lung disease with unknown causes were reported since 2004, many of them this year and involving pregnant women.

    Four of the pregnant patients died earlier this year.

    The agency said tests showed that a harmful substance in a steriliser -- used by all the patients in their humidifiers -- could seriously damage lung cells.

    Tests showed that those who added the steriliser to their humidifiers were 47.3 times more likely to get lung damage than those who did not, KCDC said in a statement.

    "The odds ratio of 47.3, clinically speaking, is exceptionally high and rare," Youn Seung-Ki, a senior KCDC official, told AFP on Thursday.

    KCDC refused to identify the harmful substance in the steriliser, which it said was widely used in other goods like shampoo and cosmetics, saying it could not verify whether the substance was also harmful through skin contact.

    "We still need more tests to reach a concrete final conclusion. But we have decided, as a precaution, to urge people against using humidifier steriliser and companies from selling the products," it said in a statement.

    Major steriliser producers had agreed to suspend sales until the final result of the agency's probe comes out in about three months, Youn said.

    "The patients added the steriliser whenever they replaced water in the humidifiers and used a whole bottle (of steriliser) a month on average," KCDC said.

    South Korean households often use humidifiers during the long, cold and dry winter.

    The agency said pregnant women spend more time resting at home, increasing their exposure to air from the humidifiers. Women also inhale about 30 percent more air after childbirth, meaning they could be more at risk at that time.

    About 600,000 units of humidifier steriliser worth two billion won ($1.8 million) are sold every year in South Korea. Makers of the product say it helps remove bacteria and dirt from the water before it is released into the air.

    Leave a comment:

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