Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Poison Sofa Incident

A true mystery...solved!

From 2006 to 2007, approximately 60 Fins presented to their dermatologists with a strange rash on the backs of their legs, buttocks, and backs. Symptoms were difficult to treat and pervasive. Testing revealed little information as to what was causing such a reaction and all involved were puzzled. The rash spread internationally throughout the UK and Sweden affecting 100's. It was a true mystery.

It was only through careful history by Dr. Rantanen, a Finish dermatologist, learned that each person had recently bought the same sofa from China. He methodically deconstructed the sofa testing approximately 40 component. Inside the sofa he discovered a small sachet containing dimethyl fumarate in crystal form. Sachets were included to inhibit mold growth during transport. It was a true eureka moment when he patch tested the individuals with the crystals & it caused a severe rash. And the so Dr. Rantanen cracked the case of the poison sofa incident!

What is dimethyl fumarate? Dimethyl fumarate (DF) is a profound sensitizing agent and able to cause reactions at levels <1 ppm. DF crystals are highly volatile and can vaporize after 6 weeks. Rashes are severe and very difficult to treat. This product is commonly placed in shoes, furniture and other items shipped from overseas. Dimethyl fumarate has achieved notoriety two times after the discovery was made that it was responsible for the rash landing on the cover of British Journal of Dermatology and as contact allergy of the year in 2011.

In 2009, levels <0.1 ppm were banned in products by the European Union, but occasionally they slip through.

There is one reported case from Canada, but luckily, we’ve not seen any cases of dimethyl fumarate allergy in the US yet (although what out because currently it's not regulated here).

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