A woman, hospitalised after inhaling toxic fumes from paint
used in her daughter's bedroom, wants the product banned for
the sake of newborns, the sick, and the elderly.
Karen and Scott Odell said they used four litres of the
Chinese-made Han Hu paint at their home in Whitby, on the
Kapiti Coast, last weekend.
Despite airing the house, a strong chemical smell remained,
so Mrs Odell took a candle to bed to give her a clue about
possible lack of oxygen in the house.
"In the night, I woke up and I was choking. Then I noticed
the candle was flickering and I knew it was time to get
The family went downstairs for the night and left the house
the next day after stripping the freshly-painted wallpaper.
Five days later, with the chemical smell getting worse, the
Odells rang the Fire Service.
"Code Red pretty much happened,'' said Mrs Odell, a
46-year-old natural therapist.
Fourteen firefighters from four trucks, public health
officials, and Porirua City Council environment and dangerous
goods officials showed up. Initial tests showed highly
hazardous chemical levels.
Mrs Odell, her 54-year-old husband and a 5-year-old boy
staying with them were taken to hospital suffering dizziness,
headaches and a burning sensation in their airways.
They are still suffering from the burning sensation, and have
sore lips and itchy skin, Mrs Odell said yesterday.
She is concerned others who have used the paint are at risk,
and wants it taken off shelves around the country
"I'm making a stand. At the end of the day that stuff should
not be sold as paint.
"My family were very healthy people and it's affected us
greatly. Imagine having asthma and having this on top ...
What about newborns, the sick, the elderly? I want to be the
voice for them.''
A spokeswoman for the shop where the Odells bought the paint
- Pete's Emporium in Porirua - confirmed the product had been
taken off their shelves but would not comment further.
Store owner Peter Dunn could not be contacted yesterday
The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)
consumer affairs branch said a hazardous substances and new
organisms enforcement officer was investigating.
The investigation would focus on determining what exposure
has occurred, how it happened and whether the hazardous
substance was approved by the Environmental Protection
Authority for sale in New Zealand.
Formal action has been taken to stop all sales of the product
until the investigation is complete, said ministry spokesman
"Attempts are being made to identify if the product is being
sold elsewhere and to whom ... MBIE's product safety branch
will assess the need for any product recall once the
investigation is complete.''
Mr Broun said while he could not comment further as the
investigation was in its initial stage, MBIE advised anyone
doing painting work to make sure safety instructions provided
with the product are followed and if there are no
instructions, do not use the paint.
Porirua District Council sent the Odells' paint to the
Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) for
testing. ESR said this afternoon it had not yet been told to
do a chemical analysis, so the results timeframe was unknown.
Meanwhile, the Odells have no clothes or possessions and are
staying with a friend.
"The Fire Service don't know what chemical they are dealing
with so they can't tell us how long until our house will be
safe,'' Mrs Odell said.
She said their insurance company, AMI, had indicated it would
not be able to help with decontamination costs.
AMI said discussions were ongoing.
"In a general sense, insurance covers 'sudden and unexpected
physical damage', so when there is no visible damage it makes
the situation a bit trickier. There's a lot to be
considered,'' said AMI corporate affairs head Craig Dowling.
- By Calida Smylie of APNZ