Risk Assessment of Dimethylfumarate Residues in Dwellings Following Contamination by Treated Furniture

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Abstract

Recently, numerous cases of dermatitis induced by dimethylfumarate (DMFu) have been reported in Europe. DMFu has been used to prevent mold development in various items, although it is not registered as a biocide. In France, from October 2008 to December 2009, more than 100 cases were reported. Despite a ban on articles containing DMFu and the removal of potentially contaminated products, some people were still suffering from dermatitis or other health problems. The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety was mandated to assess whether the existence in the past of DMFu-contaminated items in dwellings could continue to pose a threat to the health of inhabitants. A risk assessment was performed based on the classical risk analysis approach for environmental contaminants. Hazard assessment of DMFu with regard to its sensitizing properties was performed, based on human case reports collected in France between January 2009 and February 2010. For around half of the 132 individual cases reported, the causal link to DMFu was considered at least probable. An Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) local lymph node assay performed in a study on mice showed strong sensitizing potential for DMFu. Exposure was assessed by measuring DMFu in items sampled in preselected dwellings. These investigations demonstrated that DMFu exposure can persist after removal of the primary contaminated items. We therefore concluded that there was clearly a risk of skin reactions in patients previously sensitized to DMFu. Furthermore, the available data do not support the existence of significant health effects through the respiratory route.

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