Seoul: In the midst of ongoing prosecution investigations into suspected concealment of fatality, Reckitt Benckiser Korea, better known as its brand name Oxy, on Monday apologised to South Koreans for using toxic chemical in humidifier steriliser for about 10 years.
Ata Safdar, chief executive of the British firm Oxy's South Korean unit, said 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, Xinhua news agency reported.
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It marked the first time since the release of Oxy sterilisers 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 sterilisers from 2001.
It had used the toxic chemical for about 10 years despite repeated complaints from consumers that the usage of humidifier steriliser caused pulmonary problems and even deaths.
Known deaths, caused by the use of the fatal steriliser, 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 Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) announced a research result in 2011 about linkage between chemicals used in Oxy sterilisers and pulmonary health problems.
Prosecutors are investigating whether Oxy voluntarily concealed toxicity of sterilisers in its own tests or manipulated documents from research institutes that had tested the sterilisers' fatality.