‘Hundreds of deaths’ may be linked to creams

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Media caption Check shows fire danger of paraffin-based creams

Hundreds of fire fatalities may be linked to the use of skin creams that contains paraffin, a senior firefighter alerts.

If individuals use the creams regularly but tend not to often change clothes or bedsheets, paraffin residue can soak to the fabric and act as an accelerant when it comes into contact with a cig or a flame from a heater.

A BBC investigation discovered most creams do not carry alerts despite the risk.

The particular medicines regulator is conducting the safety review into the creams.

Last March a BBC analysis discovered 37 deaths were linked to skin creams that contains paraffin in England since 2010. It really is believed there have been a further eight fatalities since November 2016.

But fire services are now caution the creams – used for situations like eczema and psoriasis — may have played a role in many some other deaths without investigators realising.

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Firefighter Chris Bell, who is a watch commander with Western Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Provider, says the actual number of deaths from the creams is likely to be much higher.

“Hundreds of thousands of people utilize them, we’re not sure how many fire fatalities might have occurred but it could be in to the hundreds, ” he said.

His concerns were echoed by Mark Hazelton, group supervisor for community safety at Greater london Fire Brigade.

He or she said many fire services do not possess forensic investigation teams able to correctly assess the role of paraffin lotion in fires.

‘I seem to have established myself on fire’

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption John Bicat’s daughter Kirsten says your family had no idea his clothing was obviously a fire risk

Brian Bicat, 82, through Bradford, West Yorkshire, died final September after being set burning down.

It is believed smoke embers sparked paraffin residue through his skin cream and set his clothing alight.

His girl Kirsten said her father’s spouse Kathleen returned from a walk to get him conscious but severely hurt.

“The flat has been full of smoke and there was the pile of smouldering clothes on the ground outside the bathroom burning a opening in the carpet, ” Kirsten mentioned.

“My dad was sat on the mattress with no clothes on, and protected in water and hair singed, looking sort of dazed and he mentioned ‘I seem to have set me personally on fire’. ”

‘Human firelighter’

The grandfather of three, exactly who used to run a jazz club, has been airlifted to hospital suffering 3rd degree burns across half their body and later died.

Image copyright Household Photo
Image caption Mr Bicat with his kid Thomas

Kirsten said the family had no clue his clothing had become a open fire risk.

“One moment he was going to jazz club, happening holiday to the bird watching haven, playing Scrabble and being bigger than life like he was, then the following minute just completely gone. It might be just so hard to get your head circular, ” she said.

“The clothes that he wore had been obviously saturated with the creams therefore he unwittingly turned himself right into a firelighter and who knew which could happen? ”

No warnings

This past year the Medicines and Healthcare items Regulatory Agency (MHRA) asked almost all manufacturers of skin creams which contain paraffin to carry a fire-risk caution.

But a mutual investigation between 5 live Investigates and Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire has discovered just seven of 37 products containing paraffin that are certified in the UK have put warnings on the packaging.

The particular MHRA said it was conducting an overview around safety information concerning paraffin-based skin creams and was ongoing to “collaborate closely with companion organisations including both manufacturers as well as the fire service to further reduce the dangers associated with paraffin-containing topical products”.

John Smith, chief executive from the Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB), which represents manufacturers of top quality over-the-counter medicines, said: “We recognize that all emollient products need crystal clear information on packaging that warns customers about the potential risk if their clothes or bedding comes into contact with the naked flame. ”

He said PAGB has been engaged closely with the ongoing MHRA review.

“Many manufacturers have already added warnings, yet others are in the process of doing so, ” he or she added.


5 live Investigates is upon BBC Radio 5 live, eleven February at 11: 00 GMT – catch up on BBC iPlayer Stereo.

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