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Oral health units removed from service as a precaution

Media Release

15 May 2014

Oral health units removed from service as a precaution

Southern DHB has temporarily removed seven mobile oral health units from service as a precaution following high levels of formaldehyde detected in a Canterbury DHB mobile oral health unit of the same design.

An eighth unit remains in service as it is has a different design.

“We expect the mobile units to be out of service for about 10 days. We will be working through a range of tests to ensure they are safe before they are put back into service. Early indications are that the source of the formaldehyde fumes in the Canterbury unit may have been the tiles used in the suspended ceiling and we are working through a programme to replace these,” Southern DHB Medical Office of Health, Dr Marion Poore said.

“In the meantime we are rescheduling some appointments for regular check-ups and transferring others to alternative dental facilities.”

“Airborne formaldehyde is common in low concentrations, particularly where certain materials such as MDF, particle board and plywood have been used in construction.

“At the kind of concentrations found in one of Canterbury’s mobile dental clinics, the risk to the general public with a short appointment is negligible.

“For people who worked there over a period of time, the risk is very low although some may have experienced acute symptoms such as itchy eyes, a headache or sore throat which will have quickly diminished once they left that environment. In some cases it may make worse pre-existing conditions such as asthma or bronchitis.”


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