South Korean activists boycott Oxy RB products

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Seoul, May 13 (IANS) The Korean Federation of Environmental Movement (KFEM) on Friday called on consumers to boycott British company Oxy Reckitt Benckiser (Oxy RB) over at least 70 deaths related to toxic cleaning products sold by the company.

The Korean Centre for Disease Control in 2011 linked Oxy RB’s humidifier disinfectant, sold in South Korea since 1991, to respiratory illnesses and impaired lung function affecting at least 177 persons, 70 of whom have died, Efe news reported.

The product has now been withdrawn, and South Korean prosecutors earlier this week requested a warrant to arrest former CEO of Oxy Korea, Shin Hyun-woo, for allegedly being aware of the toxicity of products but marketing them nonetheless.

The multinational company has since taken full responsibility and vowed to make amends.

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“OXY RB and RB have expressed our sincere apologies to all those victims of the HS tragedy in Korea and stated absolutely our determination to do the right thing for the victims and their families,” the company said in a statement.

But civil activists, including those from KFEM, said OXY RB still maintains an 80 percent share in the disinfectant market globally, continuing to sell the toxic cleaning materials in 180 countries worldwide.

“It has been three years and eight months since this unbelievable tOXYc chemical disaster was unveiled. But still you are denying your responsibility,” accuses a petition on social movement platform, listing acute interstitial pneumonitis and terminal bronchiolo-alveolar damage owing to chemicals found in dozens of Oxy RB cleaning products.

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