A Deadly Chemical

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Coroner Warns of Danger of Black Henna after Woman’s Death



Warnings have been issued after Julie McCabe, aged 38, died in 2012 after an allergic reaction to her L’Oreal hair dye. However it was revealed in an inquest that she had a black henna tattoo in 2007 which increased her reaction to the hair dye.


Coroner Geoff Fell returned an accidental death verdict however urged people to be aware of this danger. Black henna is illegal within the EU as it contains paraphenylenediamine (PPD), which can cause lasting damage to the skin.


McCabe had her tattoo in Dubai and it was discovered that it contained large amounts of PPD which increased susceptibility to the chemicals in the hair dye.


Fell said he would be writing to the government’s Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to ask it to look into how the industry collected data on the problem. He also called on the cosmetics industry to vigorously find out how many customers have adverse reactions to their hair dyes, saying they had “grossly under-estimated” the seriousness of the issue.


The coroner said, “People think it’s a good idea to let their children have a black henna tattoo.


“That child could go through life 10, 15, 30 years and the first time that child dyes its hair there could be an anaphylactic reaction.”

Fell said the L’Oreal company did not encourage customers to report such problems and urged it to change this position. He also urged the industry as a whole to commission more research.


A L’Oreal spokesman said, “We welcome the coroner’s recommendations and will work with the Cosmetics, Toiletry and Perfumery Association and the rest of the industry to look at ways to improve gathering of information.”


Julie McCabe’s husband Russell expressed his grief calling his late wife a “fantastic mother” and claiming her death tore their family apart.


Slater and Gordon lawyer Carol Hopwood representing the family, said, “This tragedy highlights how common products contain potentially lethal chemicals and illustrates how important it is that clear warnings are placed on packaging to alert customers of the risk of serious injury or even death from the use of these products.”

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