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Dangerous Home Humidifiers in South Korea

According to a recent study from Seoul, South Korea by Kim et al, disinfectants in home humidifiers are the cause of 28 cases of lung injuries. Many patients were pregnant or recently had children. 4 patients required lung transplants. The disinfectants were probably used to avoid fungal growth in the machinery, but instead resulted in injuries for consumers.



Alex Alexiev

Alex Alexiev is a recent UC Davis graduate with a BS in microbiology working in Jonathan Eisen’s lab on aquariums as part of the microbiology of the built environment.

6 thoughts on “Dangerous Home Humidifiers in South Korea

  1. Another report about this situation can be found here:

    DU Park et al., Estimating retrospective exposure of household humidifier disinfectants, Indoor Air 25, 631, 2015.

    Some salient quotes from the abstract:
    “We conducted a comprehensive humidifier disinfectant exposure characterization for 374 subjects with lung disease who presumed their disease was related to humidifier disinfectant use (patient group) and for 303 of their family members (family group) for an ongoing epidemiological study.”

    “Overall, the distribution patterns of the intensity, duration, and cumulative exposure to humidifier disinfectants for the patient group were higher than those of the family group, especially for pregnant women and patients ≤6 years old.”

    And a few quotes from the opening paragraphs of the introduction:
    “In South Korea, several types of disinfectants have been widely used in humidifiers since 1994 to prevent microbial contamination, but their use has been banned since 2011 due to concerns about their health effects.”

    “South Korea is believed to be the only country where a disinfectant was added to the water in humidifiers for extended periods of time. The use of humidifier disinfectants is rarer or non-existent in other countries. Several epidemiological studies conducted in South Korea have concluded that humidifier disinfectants can cause fatal lung disease, including interstitial pneumonitis and wide spread lung fibrosis, necessitating lung transplantation.”

  2. A terrible situation, I hope that will never happen again! By the way, I wanted to pay attention to the possible consequences.
    I for that to be cautious during pregnancy, (And for kids) I recommend everything. But it depends on the method of using essential oil. Many people use heating and evaporation, and here it’s important to know what the capacity is made from. Some people are looking only for bpa free oil diffuser.
    For example, forbade the use of BPA in baby bottles:

  3. Breaking news, really terrible!

    I will trying to find more reviews of home appliances, so I could figure out what would work best for my family.

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