MDCH Encourages Michigan Consumers To Use Caution When Using Boot Leather Protector And Sealant Products

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

January 5, 2005

State health officials are recommending that consumers use extreme caution when using boot leather protector and sealant products after Michigan Poison Control Centers have received more than 90 calls that link several products with serious respiratory illnesses.

“Because of the frequency of the calls to the state’s poison centers, we believe it is extremely important for citizens to recognize the potential risks associated with these protectors,” said Janet Olszewski, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health. “Until this health investigation is completed, consumers should consider avoiding these products altogether, or, if necessary, be sure to use all spray-on leather protectors outdoors and allow the leather to dry thoroughly before bringing it inside.”

Olszewski said that both Michigan Poison Control Centers in Detroit and Grand Rapids have received calls regarding respiratory illnesses in humans and pets in Michigan associated with these products. More than 160 reports have been received by poison control centers across four other states, including Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.

The most frequently reported product associated with the illnesses is "Jobsite Heavy Duty Bootmate,” distributed by Manakey Group, LLC, but other products with similar names have been cited by callers to poison control. The manufacturer has been contacted and indicated that the product contains a chemical known to cause acute lung illness.

Symptoms primarily have included coughing, chest pain, and shortness of breath. At least 11 individuals have been hospitalized as a result of the illness. No human deaths have yet been reported; one cat has died. Illness in product users, bystanders, and pets have been reported both with product use indoors and outdoors, so extra caution should be used when using the product.

The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission also has been informed of many of these cases and products. Poison control centers in Michigan and other states, in collaboration with state health departments and the manufacturer, are currently conducting an investigation to determine what actions should be taken to protect the public, including possible product recalls.

All reports of illness meeting the above symptoms in humans or animals in Michigan should be reported to the poison control centers at Children's Hospital of Michigan or DeVos Children's Poison Control Center by calling 800-222-1222.