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Tenant's cancer death case goes to court

By Ma Zhenhuan in Hangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-04 09:03
Ziroom app. [Photo/VCG]

A court in Hangzhou is set to hear a case alleging an Alibaba employee died of leukemia caused by excessive formaldehyde levels in his rented apartment.

An official with the city's Binjiang District People's Court confirmed on Monday that it has accepted the civil case brought by the man's wife, saying a hearing will be held on Sept 27.

The employee, surnamed Wang, left Beijing to work with Alibaba in Hangzhou in late April and signed a lease with rental apartment operator Ziroom, a smartphone app that helps arrange long-term rentals of furnished apartments.

On July 10, Wang visited a hospital in Beijing. He was diagnosed with acute leukemia the next day and hospitalized, but died two days later.

Wang had been fit and healthy before moving to Hangzhou, as was shown by a physical checkup in January.

Suspicious of the air quality of the Binjiang district apartment he rented through Ziroom, Wang's wife traveled to Hangzhou from Beijing after he died and asked a local testing agency to check its air quality.

The test results showed the level of formaldehyde, a potentially carcinogenic chemical released by paints and varnishes, in the air in the apartment was 0.132 milligrams per cubic meter. According to the national standard, levels of indoor formaldehyde should not exceed 0.1 mg per cubic meter.

Ziroom, through its micro blog, said on Saturday it will respect the court's verdict.

The company has removed all apartments offered for first-time rental in nine cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, from the app.

It said in a statement released on Friday that it will not reinstate the listings for the apartments until they meet China Metrology Accreditation standards for indoor air quality.

In the past year, Ziroom, owned by real estate agency Lianjia, has been accused of leasing apartments unfit for habitation. Several tenants in different apartments operated by the company discovered that levels of formaldehyde were at least double the national standard.

The company said all apartments will be tested before they are put on the market in future, and a test report will be displayed in the information about the apartments provided by the app.

Wang Keju contributed to this story.

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