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Enzymes and algae offer alternatives to synthetic chemicals

South Korea seeks organic substitutes after lethal home product scandals

Samples are analyzed using a gas chromatography-mass spectrometry machine. (Photo by Elaine Ramirez)

SEOUL -- Ever since four pregnant women died of mysterious lung problems in 2011, South Korea has been haunted by scandals over toxic chemicals in common household goods.

The women's deaths remain unexplained. But in January the former chief of the South Korean unit of U.K. home product maker Reckitt Benckiser was sentenced to seven years in prison after a separate scandal over the sale of a humidifier disinfectant that killed nearly 100 people.

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