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Hidden Fire Risk of Emollients Commonly Used For Eczema and Psoriasis

Date : 22 May 2019


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A safety warning has been issued around hidden fire risks when using commonly-used emollients.

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is raising awareness around the use of these products, after new research carried out by forensic scientists show they pose a significant fire risk once it has dried on fabric, such as clothing or bedding.

The scientists tested a variety of emollients, some of which are used for treating skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. The findings have been  published in the Fire Safety Journal.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mark Andrews said: “We wish to raise awareness around the use of this product, to ensure that residents across our Service area realise the possible fire risks when using emollient cream. Our recommendation would be to ensure that all clothing is washed at a higher temperature to remove the flammable product from clothing. Also, care should be taken when cooking, or smoking, to ensure that the product has not been absorbed by an item of clothing and exposed to a naked flame.

“Also, we would urge residents to spread this fire safety message to loved ones and friends to increase awareness around these types of products, to reduce the risk of fires within the home.”

It has been recommended by The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) that labelling and product information for these emollient products should include a warning about the fire hazard.

National Fire Chiefs Council’s lead for emollient creams, Chris Bell, said:

“We welcome this recommendation. There have now been in excess of 50 deaths in the UK where the build-up of emollients on bedding, dressings or clothing may have contributed to the speed and intensity of the fire. Many of these fires were caused by people who smoked and were unaware of the fire risks associated with emollient build-up on fabrics.

“We have been trying to raise awareness about this issue with the public and health and care professionals. Ensuring that these products carry warnings will certainly help us as we continue to work with pharmacists, the NHS and care sector to prevent any future deaths.”

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