A new report by the BBC released today links the skin care ingredient paraffin with hundreds of fire-related deaths.
The ingredient, commonly found in skin creams and moisturisers that treat eczema and psoriasis, is an accelerant that can increase the spread of fire. When bed sheets and clothing aren’t washed frequently enough, paraffin can soak into them, proving a recipe for disaster if a fire breaks out. There have been several cases of people being set alight by matches and cigarettes simply because of how much parrafin was soaked into their clothing.
Firefighter Chris Bell from the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service told the BBC that they weren’t sure how many deaths could be linked to paraffin, ‘Hundreds of thousands of people use them, we're not sure how many fire deaths might have occurred but it could be into the hundreds.’
The dangers of paraffin aren’t widely known, and most creams don’t carry a warning about the fire risk specifically, despite the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency asking all manufacturers to add them last year.
According to a joint investigation by 5 Live Investigates and Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, only seven out of 38 parrafin-based products sold in the UK carry the warning. The BBC had also discovered a link between the creams and 37 deaths by fire since 2010.