Upholstery Cleaners be Aware of “Toxic Sofas”

A landmark payout has been awarded to a pensioner after he suffered severe burns from sitting on his “toxic sofa”. Maurice Heminsley, a 68 year old from the West Midlands was awarded an undisclosed four figure payout after he was left with severe chemical burns from his imported leather sofa. Upholstery cleaning firms should be aware that there are large numbers of these sofas amongst the population as a whole.

Mr Heminsley purchased the sofa from Furniture Warehouse unaware that it was packed with a toxic fungicide now banned in the EU. The dehumidifier dimethyl fumerate (DMF) was contained within the “toxic sofa” and lead to the pensioner developing a rash across his neck, back and legs after just a couple of days. Within three months the rash had developed into a set of agonising open sores requiring hospital treatment.


The pensioner’s settlement has paved the way for thousands of similar claims from others who have also suffered due to imported furniture containing DMF. It is quite likely that there are many more people suffering in silence from injuries like Mr Heminsley’s. Upholstery cleaning companies should be on the look out for these imported sofas and inform owners of the potential danger contained within them. Doing so will hopefully prevent others from suffering in the way Mr Heminsley has.

His sister, Joyce Barham described him as being “in a terrible state” before comparing his wounds to those of a burns victim. Mr Heminsley was taken to hospital to be treated for acute contact dermatitis as a result of his “toxic” Chinese sofa. His entire ordeal could have been avoided if his sofa came to the attention of trained upholstery cleaners.


Alongside the undisclosed payout Furniture Warehouse also provided a full refund for the sofa which housed the toxic dehumidifier. The sofas were sold by numerous retailers throughout 2007 and 2008. These included Land of Leather, Argos and several independent furniture retailers. The DMF sachets were intended to prevent the leather furniture from going mouldy while it was being stored.

Since May 1st 2009 the European Commission has banned all products containing DMF. The biocide should no longer be found on the market within the EU and it is hoped that the larger furniture retailers will find a swift resolution to the claims lodged against them. Despite the illegality of DMF upholstery cleaners should remain vigilant, it is likely many people still own sofas containing the toxic dehumidifier and are completely oblivious of what it can do.

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