#545: Court says chemical sensitivity syndrome caused by electric heater
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Following is a Japanese court case that involves an electrical appliance outgassing brominated flame retardants (BFRs), now used in practically all appliances, from toasters to heaters to computers. BFRs are closely related to PCBs and concerns have been widely raised about the toxic effects of exposure, See:
It is also concerning that Swedish research on artificial chemicals in human breast milk, conducted by the Karolinska institute, find that since 1972, when BFR levels were barely traceable, dramatic annual increases are being seen. Much of this increase has been put down to women working in modern offices using computers and office equipment with improper ventilation of BFR emissions. (Reference: No Risk in the IT environment, published by the Swedish Union of Clerical and Technical Employees in Industry (SIF))
Several weeks ago I purchased for my 14 year old son the latest wiz-bang high speed computer and installed it in our home office. Soon after starting it up the room filled with a strong smell of outgassing BFRs. The next day I installed a fan and ducting behind the computer enclosure to duct the out-gassing under the house to the outside. 100% effective and it has also improved the cooling of the computer. This is of concern as many teenagers in Australia are getting their own high speed computers and running them from home, and in many cases set up in their bedrooms. Are we slowely poisoning out kids?
Thursday August 31, 8:55 PM
Court says chemical sensitivity syndrome caused by electric heater
(Kyodo) _ The Tokyo High Court ruled on Thursday that a 22-year-old man developed chemical sensitivity syndrome after using an electric heater and ordered major retailer Ito-Yokado Co., which sold the heater, to pay about 5.5 million yen in damages.
The ruling reverses that of the Tokyo District Court in March 2005, which denied a causal link between use of the heater and the syndrome that the university student in Tokyo developed in 2001.
“As Ito-Yokado says on a daily basis that it tries to guarantee the safety of the products it sells, the company had a duty to inspect and confirm the hazardousness” of the heater, Presiding Judge Masateru Yokoyama said. “Ito-Yokado had received complaints about a strange smell, and thus could have anticipated health damage.”
It is rare for a court to recognize a causal link between health damage and an electrical appliance and to hold a retailer, not the maker, responsible for such damage, the man’s lawyers said.
The heater was made by a Taiwanese company and then imported into Japan by the company’s Japanese subsidiary. A total of 220,000 units were sold in Japan between 2000 and 2001 by retailers including Ito-Yokado, a unit of Seven & I Holdings Co.
The Japanese subsidiary received 38 complaints about the heater and the product is no longer for sale. An official of Ito-Yokado said the company intends to appeal the ruling.
According to the high court ruling, the man used the heater for several hours every day in his room for about a month from January 2001 when he was a high school student.
He then started suffering numbness in his limbs and breathing difficulties, and still suffers chemical sensitivity syndrome, the ruling said.
An inspection organization found that a toxic substance is emitted from resin in the heater’s heating units, which reach temperatures of about 280 degrees Celsius, the ruling said.
The man and his parents had demanded that Ito-Yokado pay 100 million in damages, but the district court rejected the demand, denying a causal link between the heater and the syndrome.
The plaintiffs have also filed a lawsuit seeking damages from the subsidiary as well.
L”šAssociation pour la santĂ© environnementale les hypersensibilitĂ©s et les allergies du QuĂ©bec- AEHAQ
The Allergy and Environmental Health Association of Quebec – AEHAQ
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