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Reckitt Benckiser apologizes to S.Koreans for usage of toxic chemical

Staff writer |
Reckitt Benckiser Korea, known as its brand name Oxy, apologized to South Koreans for using toxic chemical in humidifier sterilizer for about 10 years.

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The move came in the midst of ongoing prosecution investigations into suspected concealment of fatality.

Atar Safdar, chief executive of the British firm Oxy's South Korean unit, told a press conference that he offers a heartfelt apology on behalf of Oxy Reckitt Benckiser and his company will make every effort to assure the victims have necessary support and fair compensation. The chief executive said he also represents headquarters in Britain.

It marked the first time since the release of Oxy sterilizers in question 15 years ago that the company made an official apology.

The company began using polyhexamethylene guanidine (PHMG), which is fatal to humans when inhaling, in its sterilizers from 2001.

It had used the toxic chemical for about 10 years despite repeated complaints from consumers that the usage of humidifier sterilizer caused pulmonary problems and even deaths.

Known deaths, caused by the use of the fatal sterilizer, reached a whopping 70. The number of those suffering from pulmonary damages was 177. Potential victims are estimated to far surpass the known victims.

The company had sold the fatal sterilizer until the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced a research result in 2011 about linkage between chemicals used in Oxy sterilizers and pulmonary health problems.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Oxy voluntarily concealed toxicity of sterilizers in its own tests or manipulated documents from research institutes that had tested the sterilizers' fatality.

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