A new method has been developed by scientists at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya’s (UPC) Igualada School of Engineering (EEI) to enhance the detection of dimethyl fumarate (DMFu), an EU-banned chemical that causes allergies in footwear and leather.
Recently, several cases of skin allergies and eye damage have been discovered in Europe. Such allergies are caused by Asian-made leather products treated with DMFu. DMFu is used as a fungicide to set off the damages caused by micro-organisms to leather goods while shipping and storage in moist climatic conditions. The substance has been detected in containers used for product transportation and in silica gel bags, which are included in footwear, sofas and other leather products.
The Catalan Consumer Agency and other firms and organizations have been investigating the DMFu-based products using a method which allows rapid detection of the chemical without damaging the sample. The method has been developed based on the headspace solid-phase micro extraction (HS-SPME) system. The HS-SPME extracts samples without causing any damage to the product. This sample preparation technique offers higher detection sensitivity, reduces laboratory waste and chemical usage and decreases analysis time.
An acetone extraction technique has been used to examine the DMFu-containing samples. The substance was then analyzed using a gas chromatography system.
Due to the unavailability of an official analysis technique, labs in the footwear and leather industries have created their own methods to attain faster and effective analysis. At the EEI laboratory, the Catalan Consumer Agency and other authorities evaluate the leather products to ensure that they do not contain DMFu.