A Quebec coroner's report is raising a red flag over the safety of liquid
fabric softeners, saying they may make clothes more flammable as well as
The report examined the death of Danielle Plourde,
who burned to death last year when her bathrobe caught fire.
It was a terry cloth bathrobe that had been washed
with liquid softener, and in the coroner's words, died "in a ball of
Plouffe's death was the third such one in Quebec in
the past five years.
Martine Joziak's mother died when she dropped a
cigarette onto her flannel nightgown -- also washed with liquid softener.
"The lady she was talking to just heard her
yelling, and that's it. Then three hours later, the police came and told
me my mother was dead," Martine told CTV News.
Research by the Consumer Reports group in the U.S.
found clothes washed with liquid softener are up to seven times more
flammable than those washed without it.
The liquid leaves a flammable residue on the
clothing's surface, and by loosening fibers, allows fire to spread very
Consumer groups say it's time warning labels on
liquid softener be mandatory.
"We think it's important for people to be aware
what are the consequences of using that product," said Stephanie
Poulin, a consumer advocate.
For its part, Health Canada isn't convinced.
Its tests show the real problem comes from clothing
with raised fibres, like terry cloth or fleece, being repeatedly put in
"The more drying you do, the more flammable it
becomes," said Health Canada's Daniel Laporte.
CTV's Jed Kahane said the coroner suggests putting
warning labels on clothing that tell consumers some fabrics should be left
out of the dryer whether they've been washed with fabric softener or not.
"Even if the number of people is very low, they
should put warnings because one person is too many," said Poulin.
With a report from CTV's Jed Kahane