A HUDDERSFIELD man has described how toxic fumes from his new sofa left him coughing up blood.
The father-of-four developed breathing problems and a painful rash because of fumes released by sachets of anti-mould fungicide within the furniture.
The man, who does not want to be named, said: “It got to the stage where every time I laid down I felt I was choking to death. My throat was on fire and I felt constrained. I was constantly filling hankies with blood-stained mucous and my eyes became swollen.
“As the problem got worse I found it very difficult to talk or swallow. It was relentless and very depressing.”
The victim took delivery of a recliner and two settees from Land of Leather in January. But the sachets weren’t identified as the likely cause of his sickness for several months.
He said: “What made things worse was that I’d climb out of bed because my symptoms made it too uncomfortable to lie down and sleep. I’d go downstairs to rest on the recliner – effectively subjecting myself to another dose of the chemical that was causing the pain in the first place.
“It was an incredibly distressing period. It was a massive relief when the cause was finally identified and the furniture taken away.”
Sachets of the chemical, used to prevent leather from going mouldy, were stapled inside furniture manufactured in China by a company called Linkwise.
As many as 10,000 may have been sold by retailers such as Land of Leather, Argos and Walmsley.
Today, Linkwise took out advertisements in newspapers urging people who had been affected to call a helpline number on 0800 916 9070 or, in serious cases, to contact their doctor.
The victim and one of his sons, who also experienced problems after using the furniture, are among 1,500 people claiming compensation through Raleys Solicitors in Barnsley.
He said: “My goal now is to make sure that nobody else out there is suffering a similar ordeal. There must be others like me and if we can rally together I think our strength in numbers will see us through.”
Raleys spokeswoman Debra Allen said: “The majority of claims against retailers selling harmful Linkwise products are for severe skin rashes, open sores and blistering so the victims here are quite unusual in suffering acute respiratory complaints.
“But it demonstrates the severity of the problem and, with so many affected units sold and potentially still in use, there are doubtless many more victims across Huddersfield and beyond who recognise the symptoms.
“My advice to anyone who thinks they may be affected is to get in touch with us. If we can identify that their symptoms have been caused by the chemicals in the sofa, we can set the wheels in motion for securing the compensation they deserve.
“The court has already indicated that it is likely to impose a time limit to submit claims, so I would urge people to do this as soon as possible.”
Land of Leather and Walmsley could not be reached for comment on the issue.
An Argos spokeswoman said: “Argos would like to make it absolutely clear that we have not placed any orders with Linkwise since last year.
“We withdrew the potentially affected items from sale voluntarily, and customers who purchased these products were offered a refund or an appropriate alternative product.
“Argos has conducted detailed and extensive investigations into this issue, and we have worked closely with the relevant authorities to make sure that the health and safety of our customers is protected.
“We would like to reiterate that no sofas produced by the Linkwise factory are now sold in our business. We continue to advise any Argos customers who feel that they may have experienced symptoms to consult their local GP and to contact us immediately on 0845 640 2020 if they have any further customer queries.
“All claims on this issue are being handled by our insurers and, as this is the subject of litigation, we are unable to comment further at this stage.”