Oxy Co. Ltd, a local company in Korea, launched a Humidifier Sanitizer (HS) product in 1996. It was one of a number of companies involved in manufacturing HS products.

In March 2001, Reckitt acquired Oxy Co. Ltd to become Oxy Reckitt. In 2011, the Korean Centre for Disease Control (KCDC) reported lung and respiratory injuries and deaths. Following the KCDC announcement, Oxy Reckitt began to voluntarily withdraw its HS product from the market. Oxy Reckitt has since participated in all investigations to understand fully the HS issue and bring resolution to HS victims and their families.

Oxy Reckitt has expressed its sincere apologies to all victims of the HS tragedy in Korea and stated absolutely its?determination to do the right thing for the victims and their families.

Oxy Reckitt is the first HS company to offer a transparent Compensation Plan to government-recognised Category 1 and 2 victims who suffered from HS-induced lung injuries. Oxy Reckitt remains committed to finding an industry-wide and sustainable solution with other stakeholders involved in the HS issue, including the government, other manufacturers and ingredient suppliers.

Consumer safety remains Oxy Reckitt’s number one priority and we have taken steps to review our safety and escalation processes so that something like this will never happen again.

Frequently asked questions

The products in question were humidifier sanitizers (HS) to prevent bacterial growth in indoor humidifiers. There were a number of different manufacturers that produced and sold HS products. Oxy Reckitt HS products were only sold in Korea between 1996 and 2011.

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Our apology


Oxy Reckitt has apologized sincerely for the lung and respiratory injuries and deaths of Korean consumers resulting from Oxy Reckitt’s HS product, and to our consumers and all members of Korean society for damaging their trust and confidence in us. We acknowledge how tragic this situation is and what a difficult time this is for all those involved and their families. We continue to devote significant time and attention towards putting things right in Korea.

Oxy Reckitt Apology (May 2, 2016)

CEO of Reckitt meets with victim and reiterates apology (May 6, 2016)

Reckitt global CEO apologises to the victims and families affected by Oxy HS product in Korea (Sept 21, 2016)

Compensation plan

Oxy Reckitt acknowledges that the Oxy HS product caused enormous pain, grief and unbearable loss to victims and their families, and to Korean society.

Compensation Plan


Seeking broader resolution for HS victims and their families


2017 programme for HS

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Chronology

1994- 2011

Product launch to recall

Yukong (now SK Chemicals) developed the first humidifier sanitizer (HS) product and launched advertisement and sales

Oxy Co Ltd, an affiliate of OCI, released its HS product, “Humidifier Guard”

Oxy changed the active ingredient in Humidifier Guard to PHMG-P (Polyhexamethyleneguanidine Phosphate)

A number of manufacturers and private label retailers supplied the Korean market with HS products

Reckitt acquired Oxy Co. Ltd

The Korean Centre for Disease Control (KCDC) released its first public announcement on the results of its epidemiology study. It announced that HS products may be the cause of reported lung injuries and recommended against the use or sale of the products. Oxy Reckitt began a voluntary withdrawal of its Humidifier Guard HS product

The KCDC announced the interim results of their animal inhalation tests finding a causal link between HS products and the reported lung injuries and strongly recommending against their use

The Korean government ordered a recall of all HS products

The KCDC announced that HS products containing PHMG-P and PGH had caused lung fibrosis

2012 - 2015

Government investigation

The Korean Fair Trade Commission ruled that Oxy Reckitt, Homeplus, and Cefu violated the False Labelling & Advertising Act. Oxy Reckitt’s appeal was later dismissed by the High Court in August 2014 and by the Supreme Court in December 2014

The KFTC filed a criminal complaint for false advertising/mislabelling against Oxy Reckitt and others with the Prosecutor’s Office

The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Energy delegated the management of everyday chemical products to the Ministry of Environment (MoE)

MoE announced relief plans for HS victims

Oxy Reckitt’s CEO appeared at a National Assembly hearing to express his sincere regret at the pain and suffering of the victims and at failing to reach out sooner. Oxy Reckitt announced a Humanitarian Fund for HS victims

Announcement of Round (Rd) 1 results of KCDC’s review of reported lung injuries and deaths from HS products; 361 cases reported, 161 classified as “almost certainly” (Category 1) or “highly possibly” (Category 2) a result of use of HS products

Oxy Reckitt established the Humanitarian Fund of KRW 5 billion for HS-related patients in cooperation with the MoE and Korean Environmental Preservation Association

Oxy Reckitt took part in court-mediated and direct settlements with many of the Category (Cat) 1 & 2 victims who brought cases to court

Announcement of the Round 2 investigation results by the MoE; 169 cases reported, 49 of which were classified as Cat 1 or 2 victims. Four victims were reclassified to Cat 1 or 2 from Round 1

HS victims’ groups visited UK to protest at Reckitt Group’s offices

United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes made an official country visit to Korea which included meeting HS victims

KCDC Round 3 application deadline; 752 additional cases reported

2016 - Present Day

Oxy Reckitt accepted responsibility and provides compensation

Lotte Mart offered an apology to its HS consumers and pledged to form an organization to provide compensation, announcing it was making available KRW 10 billion for this

Oxy Reckitt apologized for the disappointment caused to the victims and their families due to the lack of an appropriate response and communication related to the HS issue

MoE announced that it planned to

? resume accepting new applications for categorisation;
? complete Round 3 of its review by the end of 2017, if not earlier; and
? study the health effects of HS products other than lung damage

Homeplus offered an apology and pledged to form an independent organization for compensation

Oxy Reckitt’s CEO in Korea apologized on behalf of Oxy Reckitt to all victims who suffered lung injury as a result of the Humidifier Guard and their families, and accepted responsibility for the role the Oxy Reckitt HS product played in the tragedy and the delay in providing an adequate remedy. He announced that Oxy Reckitt would develop a compensation plan for Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Rounds 1 and 2 and that it would consult with them on this

Reckitt Group’s CEO apologized for the HS issue at the Group’s Annual General Meeting and met with the father of a victim to apologise personally for the role the Oxy Reckitt product played in the tragedy

Oxy Reckitt reiterated its apology at a victims’ meeting in Daejeon and commenced consultations with Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Rounds 1 and 2 and their families on the form of a Compensation Plan

The Prosecutor’s Office referred a criminal case of false labelling to the court for hearing, together with cases against individual managers and former managers at Oxy Reckitt and other HS manufacturers for false labelling, criminal negligence and criminal fraud

UN Working Group visited Korea to observe the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

Oxy Reckitt held its second consultation meeting with Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Rounds 1 and 2 and their families on a Compensation Plan in Seoul

Oxy Reckitt holds the third and final consultation meeting with Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Rounds 1 and 2 and their families in Seoul

South Korea’s National Assembly launched HS Special Investigation Committee whose remit was to consider the actions of Government organisations and relevant businesses in relation to the HS issue

Oxy Reckitt announced the Compensation Plan for Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Rounds 1 and 2

Oxy Reckitt’s Compensation Plan opens for registration from Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Rounds 1 and 2

Special Rapporteur of the United Nations published his report on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes covering HS issue

The Korea Environmental Industry and Technology Institute (KEITI) announced that 165 out of the 752 Round 3 applicants had been assessed. Of these, 35 applicants were categorized as Category 1 or 2. Of them, 31 indicated that they had used the Oxy Reckitt product either on its own or in conjunction with other HS products

National Assembly Special Committee (NASC) conducted formal hearings to review the role of HS manufacturers, raw material suppliers, retailers and government agencies responsible for regulation and supervision of the manufacture of household products

Reckitt Global CEO Kapoor met with NASC and families of victims at UK HQ to listen to their pain and officially apologize

To drive transparency, Oxy Reckitt is the first home products company in Korea to disclose all its product ingredients on its website (www.necochybi.com/kr)

Oxy Reckitt CEO appeared at the criminal court hearing relating to mislabeling on behalf of the company. Oxy Reckitt did not contest the prosecution. He said, “I will never forget the words from a victim that you bury your lost child in your heart”. He explained that Oxy Reckitt has accepted its responsibility for the lung injuries the Humidifier Guard had caused, has provided a compensation scheme and is working with others, including HS manufacturers and raw material suppliers, to provide practical support for victims

The National Assembly Environment and Labour Committee (ELC) debated the proposed HS Special Law, which required HS manufacturers and suppliers to contribute KRW 125 billion for special relief for Cat. 3&4 The proposed HS Special Law was then transferred in the form approved by the ELC to the Legal and Judicial Committee of the National Assembly, prior to any vote by the NA as a whole

86% of Category 1 and 2 victims from Rounds 1 and 2 have registered for Oxy Reckitt’s Compensation Plan (This percentage excludes four cases already compensated by Lotte Mart)

Judgment was given in Korean criminal proceedings. ?Oxy Reckitt did not contest the Prosecutors’ case that it violated the Fair Labelling & Advertising Act. Oxy Reckitt was found guilty of this offence, as part of a series of criminal judgments involving suppliers and OEM manufacturers, and some of their managers or former managers. Two current employees and two former employees of Oxy Reckitt were found guilty of charges of mislabelling and criminal negligence. Employees of other suppliers received similar verdicts

The Ministry of Environment and Health Committee (EHC) announced that a further 188 of the 752 Round 3 applicants had been assessed. ?Of these, 18 applicants were categorised as Category 1 and 2 victims. ?All of those categorised as Category 1 and 2 were found to have used the Oxy Reckitt product either on its own or in conjunction with other HS products.

The HS Damage Relief Act was passed by the National Assembly. The new law established an HS Damage Relief Committee under the MoE and a special relief account of KRW 125 billion to be operated by KEITI. The detail as to the precise functions and operations of both will be set out in subsidiary legislation. The special relief account will be funded by a contribution of KRW 25 billion from the ingredient manufacturer, and contributions from companies involved in the HS issue in accordance with the volume of their HS sales and the ratio of product use among those seeking categorization as victims. [Oxy Reckitt’s contribution is estimated to be about KRW 70 billion.]

Registration for Oxy Reckitt’s Compensation Plan for Category 1 and 2 victims from Rounds 1 and 2 closes. 99% of eligible victims have registered for compensation

The Ministry of Environment announced that a further 99 of the 752 Round 3 applicants had been assessed. Of these, 3 applicants were categorised as Category 1 and 2 victims, two of which were found to have used the Oxy Reckitt product either on its own or in conjunction with other HS products.

Oxy Reckitt commenced consultations in Seoul with Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Round 3 whose categorisation was announced on or before March 27, 2017 on the form of a Compensation Plan.

Oxy Reckitt held its second consultation meeting in Seoul with Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Round 3 whose categorisation was announced on or before March 27, 2017 on the form of a Compensation Plan

Oxy Reckitt launched its Compensation Plan for Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Round 3 whose categorisation was announced on or before March 27, 2017 and opened it for registration.

The Ministry of Environment announced that a further 205 Round 3 applicants and 1,009 Round 4 applicants had been assessed. Of these, 18 applicants were categorised as Round 3 Category 1 and 2 victims and 76 as Round 4 Category 1 and 2 victims.

Oxy Reckitt paid KRW 67.4 billion in lump sum for the contribution to the HS relief fund on September 8, 2017 under the HS Special Law.

Oxy Reckitt extended its Compensation Process to Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Round 3 whose categorisation has been announced on or before August 10, 2017.

The Ministry of Environment announced that a further 12 Round 3 applicants and 339 Round 4 applicants had been assessed. Of these, 2 applicants were categorised as Round 3 Category 1 and 2 victims and 5 as Round 4 Category 1 and 2 victims.

The Ministry of Environment announced that a further 536 Round 4 applicants had been assessed. Of these, 8 were categorised as as Round 4 Category 1 and 2 victims.

The Ministry of Environment announced that a further 912 Round 4 applicants had been assessed. Of these, 19 as Round 4 Category 1 and 2 victims.

Oxy Reckitt hosted a meeting for Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Round 4 to reiterate its apology and consult the victims and their families on a Compensation Plan.

The Ministry of Environment announced that a further 753 Round 4 applicants had been assessed. Of these, 15 were categorised as Oxy HS Round 4 Category 1 and 2 victims.

Oxy Reckitt continued offering compensation through its Compensation Plan for Oxy HS Category 1 and 2 victims in Round 3 (announced on or before Aug 10, 2017) and foetal victims (announced up to Dec 14, 2017) recognized under Oxy Reckitt’s CP rule.

The Ministry of Environment announced that a further 505 Round 4 applicants had been assessed. Of these, 27 were categorised as Oxy HS Round 4 Category 1 and 2 victims.

Oxy Reckitt hosted a meeting with Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Round 4 (announced on or before July 12, 2018) to reiterate its apology and consult the victims and their families on a Compensation Plan.

Oxy Reckitt announced its Compensation Plan for Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Round 4 (announced on or before July 12, 2018).

The Ministry of Environment announced that a further 144 Round 4 applicants had been assessed. Of these, 5 were categorised as Oxy HS Round 4 Category 1 and 2 victims.

The Ministry of Environment announced that a further 360 Round 4 applicants had been assessed. Of these, 9 were categorised as Oxy HS Round 4 Category 1 and 2 victims.

Oxy Reckitt announced the extension of its Compensation Plan for Category 1 and 2 Oxy HS victims from Round 4 (to victims announced on or before July 26, 2019).

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