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New law to enhance protection of consumers from humidifier sanitizers

Politics 17:35 March 23, 2020

SEOUL, March 23 (Yonhap) -- The Ministry of Environment said Monday it will proclaim a revision of the current law regulating humidifier sterilizers this week, seeking to expand the scope of diseases caused by the use of the chemical products and facilitate victims' lawsuits against their manufacturers.

A revision of the Special Act on Remedy for Damage Caused by Humidifier Disinfectants will be proclaimed Tuesday before being enforced six months later, the ministry said.

Under the revised law, people who become sick with asthma, pneumonia, bronchiectasis and interstitial lung disease after being exposed to humidifier disinfectants will be put in a more advantageous position in their damage suits against manufacturers.

This file photo from Yonhap News TV shows various humidifier disinfectant products. (Yonhap)

Those patients have so far had difficulties verifying damage to their health because such diseases can be caused by various factors, such as smoking, aging, eating habits, occupational factors and family history, in addition to exposure to toxic humidifier sanitizers.

In addition, the revised law obliges humidifier sanitizer makers to prove the absence of correlation between exposure to their products and various diseases of consumers.

The new law also calls on the government to offer its assistance to people who suffer from diseases rarely associated with exposure to humidifier disinfectants if they are recognized as victims by a state-run screening committee.

South Korea's notorious humidifier sterilizer scandal came to light in 2011 after four pregnant women died of unknown lung problems. Toxic disinfectant products reportedly caused the deaths of over 1,500 consumers in the nation.


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