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Thursday, October 29, 1998 Published at 10:19 GMT


Deodorant obsession killed boy

Deodorants are dangerous in high concentration

A teenager from Oldham died from deodorant fumes because of his obsession with personal hygiene.

An inquest heard that 16-year-old Jonathan Capewell had 10 times the lethal dosage of propane and butane in his blood.

He became obsessed with smelling fresh and would cover his entire body in deodorant at least twice a day.

The schoolboy died after suffering a heart attack. It is believed the gases built up in his body following months of repeatedly spraying himself in the bedroom of his home.

Coroner Barrie Williams recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Normal, healthy boy

He said: "The 16-year-old was a normal, healthy teenager who was not indulging in any form of substance abuse. He was simply overcome by excessive use of anti-perspirants.

"There was an exceptionally high use of deodorant for personal hygiene. It was used in a fairly confined space against the advice of the canisters."

A post-mortem found that Jonathan had 0.37mg of butane per litre in hs blood, and the same amount of propane. A level of 0.1mg per litre can be fatal.

Jonathan's death is believed to be the first by accidental inhalation in the country. There have been more than 130 deaths from intentional inhalation of anti-perspirants and deodorants in the UK since 1971.

Better warnings needed

Jonathan's mother Louise called for better warnings on aerosols.

She said: "You just get up in the morning and spray it on, but who expects it to kill you?

"Companies spend all that money and time on advertising how exotic it smells, but they don't do enough to warn you of the dangers."

His father Keith Capewell said: "When we told him he was using too much, he said he just wanted to smell good."

He said that his son was using so much deodorant that "even when we were in a room downstairs we couldn't just smell it, we could taste it".

"You wouldn't have thought that could have been the cause for someone to die. What a price to pay for smelling nice," he added.

Cans of Lynx, Gillette and Right Guard were found in Jonathan's room after his death.

Sue Rogers, from the British Aerosol Manufacturing Association, said it was looking into the matter urgently.

"I have never heard of any accident like this. It is extraordinarily unusual and terribly tragic. The aerosols have warnings about spraying in confined areas and well ventilated places but these are for flammability risks, not about accidental inhalation.

"The circumstances of Jonathan's death are so unusual that it is difficult for us to make a further comment.

"But clearly we are a responsible industry, and we will look into it with urgency to ensure that everything possible is done to maintain good practice."

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