Monday, October 6, 2008

The UK Toxic Sofa Scare

There has been a huge amount of press over the last 12 months now in regards to the ‘itchy sofa’ scare so we have delved in to researching just exactly what happened to bring you the facts!
Late last year (2007) reports starting emerging that a number of people were starting to complain of skin irritations, not that unusual, until you find out that there was one common factor with all of these peoples mysteriously sudden cases of rashes – they had all purchased leather sofas from 3 major high street stores. Again, it was surprising to find out that each of these companies had been selling leather sofas supplied to them by the same major Chinese company. There seemed to be a definite link between the Chinese sofas and the terrible skin complaints that were being reported across the UK.  

As time went on more and more cases seemed to be brought forward and the extensive list of symptoms included rashes, blisters, dermatitis, weeping wounds, eczema and in some very extreme cases blood poisoning; there were even reports that the sofas had in some way effected family pets to the point that their fur was falling out at a dramatic rate! Many people suffered from depression out of being totally unaware as to why they had these awful burn-like rashes all over their bodies that would just not go away. Finally an answer came. It had been discovered that the Chinese company had used an anti fungal chemical called Di-Methyl Fumarate (DMF) which was stored in sachets and inserted in to the leather sofas in order to prevent moisture and mould whilst in transport. Unbeknownst to the major high street stores concerned as well as their customers who were buying these sofas, the DMF was causing all of these terrible and unrelenting symptoms. It was found that when subjected to a warm environment the DMF crystals in the sachets were evaporating in to toxic gases which penetrated the sofas and passed through clothes on to the skin of the person sitting on the sofa where it created an allergic reaction.  

The story was covered in February of this year by BBC’s Watchdog programme in which the Chinese manufacturer denied the allegations and with over a thousand people complaining they had ‘itchy sofa’ syndrome many started seeking compensation. Eventually, solicitors Russell, Jones & Walker (RJW) became the main campaigners for this compensation, representing now over 1300 people in their claims. Joined in group litigation against the companies supplying the effected sofas, it is the largest ever defective product action ever recorded in England and Wales.

The information came as a relief to many people who were undergoing treatment for their traumatisation including creams, antibiotics and steroids. They now knew what was causing their terrible skin outbreaks and were able to do something about it by disposing of their effected sofas immediately. However, some experienced great difficulty in having their sofas replaced by the companies they had purchased from – some were even left for weeks with nothing to sit on! To date the battle is still ongoing with more and more people coming forward with complaints about their toxic sofas. Infact, RJW believe that there could be over 50,000 homes that are harbouring a defective sofa so there is no telling when these problems will cease, even though all of the effected models were eventually recalled.  

One reason why we wanted to bring you this important update is to ensure our customers that Leather Sofa World has never had any dealings with the Chinese manufacturer concerned and that we have never had any sort of complaint in regards to skin conditions associated with any of our products, we also felt that it is our duty to create more awareness of this issue as many people are still suffering in silence having no idea that it is their sofa that is causing them so much distress. We make health and safety a priority when selecting new sofas for our ranges and always ensure that they exceed British Safety Standards.

If you feel that you may have been affected by the ‘itchy sofa’ syndrome then you can find a list of bad sofa batch numbers at the RJW website along with some useful information on what to do next www.rjw.co.uk . You can also read the BBC’s Watchdog report here.

46 comments:

  1. yeah my mother in law came out with a serious rash after going to dfs for her leather needs, she looked like walking eczema! avoid that place like the plague!!! peace x x x

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  2. Can anyone help me i bought a sofa from Dfs over 2 years ago. I am now attending hospital for a serious rash on feet legs and going into my back. I am in agaony with this rash. its sore itchy and I am not able to get a decent sleep now. I contacted DFS and they are holding no responsibility I feel quite ill all the time now. I am constantly on steroids and creams The hospital are trying to get me better but to no avail

    Please help me

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  3. Hi Shirley,

    DFS wasn't one of the named retailers in the Watchdog program but the best thing to do is to contact RJW solicitors for advice as they are dealing with the majority of the cases and will be able to advise on what action is best for you. Also, check if your sofa was made by Linkwise or Eurosofa as these seem to be where the affected sofas are coming from. Hope this helps! Sian LSW

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  4. shirleymcnSian  thank you so much for contacting me.  i realise that DFS were not mentioned in the Watchdog programme but I have contacted RJW who are now giving me advice.  I also contacted DFS head office and spoke to a very insensitive woman who has as much as told me that if I am allergic to the sofa that is my own responsibility to get another sofa as they are nor responsible for anything.  Quite frankly she was just not interested.  I personally work in a similar position and would not have spoken to any member of the public like that.  I was made to feel like a criminal and all I am is the victim of something that has affected me badly for 2 years.  I just have not realised the cause and its gradually got worse over that time.  She told me that she would get rid of it if it was her but its a hard one when you dont have the 2-3k that was spent on the Cologne sofa.  if it is proven that it is to blame I will know its the product that DFS sell as i have had a Harveys leather sofa for years previous to looking for this one.  Feel sorry for anyone else in this condition it is so sore and painful you would think it was burns.  Thanks for your help though Sian and sorry for sounding off

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  5. shirleymcnSian  thank you so much for contacting me.  i realise that DFS were not mentioned in the Watchdog programme but I have contacted RJW who are now giving me advice.  I also contacted DFS head office and spoke to a very insensitive woman who has as much as told me that if I am allergic to the sofa that is my own responsibility to get another sofa as they are nor responsible for anything.  Quite frankly she was just not interested.  I personally work in a similar position and would not have spoken to any member of the public like that.  I was made to feel like a criminal and all I am is the victim of something that has affected me badly for 2 years.  I just have not realised the cause and its gradually got worse over that time.  She told me that she would get rid of it if it was her but its a hard one when you dont have the 2-3k that was spent on the Cologne sofa.  if it is proven that it is to blame I will know its the product that DFS sell as i have had a Harveys leather sofa for years previous to looking for this one.  Feel sorry for anyone else in this condition it is so sore and painful you would think it was burns.  Thanks for your help though Sian and sorry for sounding off

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  6. hi everyone write a letter to dfs head office,to andrew tweedale,and get in touch with trading standards.dfs have just agreed ,as a gester of good will to take my leathersofa back and pick a new one.i was in hospital with my rash ,cant stop scratching when sit on sofa even got 2 throws on

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  7. hi everyone me again go to your doctors tell him you want to go to dermitology clinic at hospital to be tested to see if your allergic to DMF ,im going to st helens hospital liverpool to see Dr winhovan .

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  8. Are Italian styled sofas sold by Homebase included in this? Was diagnosed with allergic dermatitis in January. Nothing to explain symptoms. Never suffered from dermatitis before and it is not clearing up. Range I bought is no longer sold by Homebase

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  9. Are any italian manufactuers(new trend) involved in this, i bought my suite from Thomsons World of Furniture and have had health problems since, my daughter is also suffering and has been told she has dermatitis, she has also had strange fluid filled blisters on her legs and swollen and infectections in her eyes

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  10. We bought a sofa and chair from Harvey's and my husband has an unexplainable rash which itches and burns and stops him sleeping. He has been driven demented by this continual rash and the 4 doctors he has seen have been unable to pinpoint what it is.
    I rang Harvey's but was informed that, although their furniture is amnufactured in China that DMF is guaranteed not to be used. They weren't able to explain how they knew this to be so as they confirmed they don't examine their leather furniture themselves. Has anyone else had this problem with Harvey's? My husband refuses to sit on this suite now.

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    1. Two weeks ago I bought 2 sofas from Harveys and have now come out in a rash. They have told me to got for the test and come back to them. Even with two throws on the sofa, can only sit on it for a very short time.

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  11. hi i brought some sofas from Harvey,s last May, to begin with my back started to itch then it developed into a rash i also have dermatitis that became infective my body looks burnt and i am unable to work as my body is so sore i can not bear to wear any clothes and i feel very depressed at times.

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  12. I am worried about an 'italcomfort' Laura sofa I have. It was brought from Harveys. I cant see made in Italy on the label and unsure if it is made in Italy or China etc but I have been feeling unwell when around the sofa and better when I went away. It could be nothing but would like to hear if anyone else is concerned about these leather sofas.
    Thanks

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  13. Hi im in the same boat as everyone else , iv had this awful rash all over my body for a long time now i never linked it to my sofa as when i first saw the watchdog report they didnt list DFS. i purchased my Lombardia suite from them 3 yrs ago. Ive been back & forward to the drs and have tried every cream, steroid cream & shampoo they could prescribe but nothing worked. I contacted RJW and they told me they are getting a lot of cases from people purchasing sofas from DFS and are taking me on as a case. Ive been back to the Drs today and im now on steroid tablets and the Dr has written to the dermatologist to ask for a DMF patch test so fngers crossed this will be sorted out as i cant stand the pain much longer. I cant sleep i itch so much my skin constantly feels like its on fire even a bath or shower is agony. I realy sympathise with anyone suffering this as it is so painful. You start to think its on your head when treatment doesnt work . Good luck everyone

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  14. Hi I have just bought a marakech corner sofa from Harveys 4 weeks ago and all family members have had blisters on legs and arms. You cannot sit on the sofa for feeling itchy all over. Any one else similar problems with Harveys sofas?

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    1. Yes I have had the same problems with two Club sofas I bought from Harveys last month. Getting no help from my doctor though about getting the allergy test which Harveys want before they will even discuss it.

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  15. AnonymousMay 11, 2009

    Hi, Bought a La Paz leather suite from Harvey's earlier this year, have suffered very bad rash on ankle and back of hands. Scratched so much it got infected and i had to wear gloves because it looked so bad. Still suffering but cream helping.

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  16. AnonymousMay 13, 2009

    Not only sofas... beware of memory foam. I bought a mattress upper from Woolworths in 2007 and about a month after putting it on the bed, a terrible rash started. My doctor treated for scabies, fungal infections, gave antibiotics - nothing worked, it has still not resolved. Apparently the DMF sensitisation is permanent, i.e. if this happens to you you will have eczema for life.

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  17. I think Chinese people are trying to give westerners terrible illnesses! Typical of this stupid stupid decade, DFS suck more than a Paul W S Anderson film, I hope he gets a terrible rash on him too.

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  18. hiya, im really really upset, ive only had my new leather settee 2 weeks now and ever since it came into the house, my poor little boy aged 9 has been head to toe in a rash, it looks awful, the settee was purchased from dfs, whome ive since rang and they are taking none off the blaim, they say their sofas are anti allergy treated!!!!! the rash only occurs when my son sits or lies on the settee and as the day goes on gets worse and worse. my sons has diabetese type 1 and also coeliacs, the last thing he needs is a rash of a bloody settee, im furious as i feel like theres nothing i can do. please help!!!!!

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  19. is reid furnishings been affected by all this, please let me know

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  20. I BOUGHT A LEATHER RECLINING SUIT FROM REID FURNITURE 4 MONTHS AGO, NOW I KNOW WHY MY SON DEVELOPED A SEVERE RASH WHICH COULD NOT BE EXPLAINED BY DOCTORS, REMOVED THE SUIT NOW HE IS FINE

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  21. did they give you a new suit????? ive been to the docs and theyve given him cream, which of course isnt working, my heads done in with it, cos dfs are wanting a dermatologist report and i cant get one xx

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  22. WE BOUGHT A SOFA FROM DFS, MY 10 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER HAS HAD AN UNEXPLAINED SKIN CONDITION FOR ABOUT A YEAR, ARE DR REF US TO DERMATOLOGY AT THE HOSPITAL AS HE TRIED ANTIHISTAMINES, STEROID CREAM AND ANTIBIOTICS BUT NOTHING WORKED. MY DAD TODAY MENTIONED "ARE U SURE ITS NOT THE SETTEE" WE WERE AWAY ON HOLIDAY FOR A WEEK AND HER RASH IMPROVED AMAZINGLY, BUT SINCE WE GOT HOME IT HAS RETURNED WITH A VENGENCE. ALSO ARE CAT HAD TO BE TREATED BY THE VETS FOR A MYSTERY SKIN CONDITION WHICH THE VETS COULD NOT EXPLAIN, HER FUR FELL OUT AND SHE HAD SEEPING SCABS. TOMORROW I AM GOING TO SEEK ADVICE. ANYONE EXPERIENCING THE SAME?

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  23. I Bought a Leather Sofa (Made to order) from DFS around three years ago. My Husband recently developed a severe rash in various parts of his body, he was in agony, Doctors at hospital couldn't work out what was causing this contact dermatitis until one suggested 'could it be something your sitting on'? Our sofa is from the corner group, The backs of his legs where completely ulcerated, You could actually see a pattern of rash forming on his body! I have recently emailed DFS and explained and, they responded with assurences that they do not use ant fungal in there sofas. I have since asked them to put it in writing before we have it tested.
    This DFS Sofa is to blame because my Husband's symptoms have allievated since he stopped sittting on it.

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  24. Hi, I just bought an Italcomfort Laura armchair and am not feeling particularly relaxed when sitting on it, I don't know why...I was wondering whether the person from a previous post with the same sofa has continued experiencing the "side-effects" or had any news about place of manufacture etc? thanks

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  25. REID FURNITURE I bought a leather( atlas) sofa rocker seats and recliners from them on the 17 november 09 on the 20 november his skin had a rash 4 doctors did not know what it was, it then went all over my elderly 80 year old fathers body it was horrific I was terrified it was so bad you thought someone threw a bucket of acid over him'our doctor let us go to a private dermatologist and she said have you got any new furniture recently we said yes, leather she said, yes doctor, this is contact dermatitis from your leather sofa and patch test will prove this she was right.she told us to take him off the sofa and after a few days all the redness came out of his skin and it is healing well, but his skin is left damaged g reid furniture is looking into it I also contacted my city hall public safety people who are on to reid them selfes and are following with great interest

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  26. reid furniture for my first post dermatitis from atlas leather sofa with my 80 year old father my email thomasbrowne@ntlworld.com any one wishes to contact me about this for any reason please do so please put reid furniture so I will know to open up y our email many thanks. the lady who.s son had bad rash from leather sofa from reids I thank you for posting what had happened to your son on this forum.reids said to me they have had no problems at all from anyone with rashes I believe there must be loads of people with this problem and its being kept quite with a offer of the removal of there sofa and money back etc yours truely thomas browne

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  27. reid furniture 80 year old father had horrific rash all over his body like acid poured over him .Reid wait for it have sent the complaint of to the factory in china that makes the atlas suit and they are doing test on a suit not my suit and not a independant test.its like asking turkeys to vote for christmas I am so angry at the way reid have dealt with this.I Tell them a dermatologist tells me she believes the horrific injuries were caused by the atlas suit and there responce was to send a tecnition out a week later and they tell me this is a first yet they is a lady here with a small son posted on here with the same problem what a cover up

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  28. yes, we bought a pasadena suite from Harveys in June 09 and I seem to have an allergic reaction to it. When we asked how long delivery would take, (thinking they were made in Italy) the assistant told us that they actually came from China. I have looked on the internet and found that various leather suites from china have an anti-fungal chemical sprayed on them to prevent them from mould whilst in transit to their destination. This chemical has caused an allergic reaction in lots of people. When I sit on our sofa for prolonged periods I have a tingling burning sensation on the back of my legs, arms, back, bottom etc. (all the parts that touch the leather) causing an itchy rash, even my head itches and lips tingle, which are common signs of an allergic reaction. I will be phoning Harveys today, to see what they are prepared to do, but don't hold out much hope, since presumably they will want doctors notes etc. and situations like this are hard to prove. Hopefully, by now, they may have had other complaints though, which could help my cause. Has anyone else had this problem???

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  29. I have had exactly the same problems since the purchase of a Foam Memory Mattress made in China. Doctors have treated for 2 years still no better I just gave up until now. I will investigate more on the Russell, Jones and Walker (solicitors) website

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  30. AnonymousJune 08, 2010

    well i bought a sofa from Leather Sofa World - the owners of this article, and i've been coughing like mad for months and getting eczema. I asked for the product to be returned, yet just like DFS as mentioned above, they were rude about it and claim their product is the best and won't cause allergies and won't accept return of their sofa even though it caused great discomfort. don't trust any of these retailers, their all must money grabbers and don't seem to care about the consumer.

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  31. I have purchased 4 Palazzo 3 seater sofa's two years ago from Reids Furniture. Myself and my partner have suffered from itchy skin since, can anyone advise if this sofa is part of the affected range made in China?

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    1. AnonymousJuly 28, 2012

      It defo is made in china because the springs burst on mines and we had to wait on new springs and foam coming from china to fix it

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  32. AnonymousJune 20, 2010

    Hi I just today bought a Sartini sofa in Harveys today and getting delivery this week - having read our comments I am panicking - should i cancel or not - HELP

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  33. Don't worry about it too much, maybe a lot of it is in your head, or it could be some little critters nesting in your sofa!

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  34. There are apparently several thousand lawsuits still pending pertaining to the toxic sofa story. Further details can be found at http://www.sofarash.co.uk for anyone interested.

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  35. My partner has been having breathing difficulties for a year or so but did not know why . When we went on holiday she was fine , but started again when we got back. looking back she started with this shortley after we brought a leather sofa from D F S . Has anyone else had similar problems

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  36. We have a DFS two and three seater leather sofa. In the last six months I have been at home seven days a week instead of working and staying away. Since working locally I have been suffering a severed rash on my elbows, small of back and lower leg. I have thought what could be casuing it and ruled out everything. The rash is in places where my bare skin may touch the sofa if wearing t shirt and shorts. It seems to be the sofa.
    The GP also agrees with this and states it appears to be contact dermatitus. I am awaitring referal to a dermatolgist.
    Interestingly previous post by another states exactly the same. My wife has a cat which also lost it fur and suffered a skin problem.
    DFS are not interested and live in denial. The sofa is now a waste of space. Its looks are spoilt by a permanent throw cover. Only time my skin improves is when I have a few days away from it. Thanks DFS for this product would be more comfortable sat on a cardboard box.
    Are others experincing the same?

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  37. Hello,
    Everyone me again go to your doctors tell him you want to go to dermitology clinic at hospital to be tested to see if your allergic to DMF ,im going to st helens hospital liverpool to see Dr winhovan

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    1. My doctor wont agree to send me for a test "unless my problem is life-threatening" - any ideas what I can do? Have tried to go private but even though I am willing to pay the £120 fee, they tell me they won't be able to absolutely say the cause is my sofas without testing the material (cannot really carry one of the sofas under my arm!).

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  38. I've been getting a rash since buying the Leon sofa from DFS. Been to the doctors a number of times and been told it was eczema, then psoraisis, then scabies, then impitigo, then eczema, then they were convinced it was indeed scabies. Nothing they've treated me with has helped at all. I'm now being referred to dermatology clinic. I've only just begun to think that its the sofa that's the cause. I have the rash on the back of my neck, my right arm (where it rests on the arm of the sofa, and the backs of my calfs. All places that come into direct contact with the leather.

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    1. My rashes are in exactly the same places - my two sofas are from Harveys (Cube).

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    2. Sorry the name should have said Club not Cube.

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  39. The post ism giving information about leather sofa and toxic material. Read to know more

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  40. i went to look at a sofa yesterday evening that was on ebay, sat on it and looked before bidding.This morning ive a blister like spot came on my neck and its sore, i seached online and came across all this about land of leather. but i thought they recalled all the sofa,s. does anyone think this could be a infected sofa.

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