THE death of Jamaican-born Anastasia Graham, due to what a UK pathologist reported was likely a result of chemicals in her hair glue, has sparked widespread debate as to the dangers associated with this commonly used solvent.
The 34-year-old, who had been wearing hair extensions for the past 14 years, collapsed after a long night of dancing at a nightclub in London, where she lived.
According to a report in the Daily Mail, pathologist Michael Heath told the inquest into her death at Southwark Coroner's Court in London that the latex glue used by the Jamaican woman could have been the cause for the anaphylactic shock that resulted in her death.
A post-mortem failed to find any abnormalities with her organs or other substances that could have been blamed.
"I've seen cases where people using solvent to apply extensions has actually caused anaphylactic shock," the pathologist said, before adding, "There are about 10 to 20 deaths a year in this country, many more in America. I have seen four in the last three months."
He said traces of the glue could have seeped into Graham's bloodstream as she danced into the wee hours of the morning at the club where her boyfriend was the DJ. The newspaper reported that she suddenly collapsed as she stepped through the doorway of their home in South-East London and efforts to resuscitate her failed.
Local trichologist Dr Hyacinth Oates said it is possible for someone to have a negative reaction to hair glue which causes them to experience an anaphylactic shock.
"Her reaction is like when you are allergic to seafood -- it is the same thing that she experienced but to more of a detrimental degree I would say," she told All Woman.
"She has been using it a long time, so her body became so sensitive to it, that one of the days it just went straight into her blood and that was it," she surmised.
The doctor said the reviews given by a group of 50 cosmetologists that she teaches, confirmed that the solvent could be dangerous if not properly used.
"They all had the same thing to say about the glue. They say it leads to the drying out of the scalp, itching, sensitivity of the scalp and they say some people experience redness and inflammation," she said.
Unfortunately, the doctor noted that it was being widely abused by even hairdressers. She said although the glue should not be kept in the hair for more than two days, some women keep it in for weeks.
"Gluing is supposed to be a temporary solution to apply the extension to the hair and it is not to be applied to the scalp," she said.
"It is a quick fix, it is not meant to be abused the way we are abusing it, but like everything else, we take it to the extreme," she asserted.
She went on to warn those who put in the glue themselves or have someone put it in, to wear protective gear while applying the glue to the extensions.
"You should not forget your nose mask, you should gear up. Remember now that the glue is what drug users use to get high because it carries high fumes, and worse if you are in a closed room, it is not good," she said.
The doctor was particularly concerned that one could not easily read the ingredients on the bottles because, "they are so small and most of the bottles are black."
This, she said, also made it challenging to make out the manufacturers of the products or their contact details.
Dr Oates said she was also concerned about the fact that a number of persons were using hair glue to attach eyelash extensions. The doctor said the latest craze among Jamaican women continues to be a big problem for professionals in the industry.
"I would say most of the persons who are now wearing lashes use the same hair glue to put the lashes on, so that is how they end up with the swelling of the eyes and the redness and closing down and all the rest. It is such a bad situation," she said.
Director of Jencare Skin Farm and one of Jamaica's leading beauty experts, Jennifer Samuda, had also raised the issue last year during one of the Observer's weekly Monday Exchange forums.
She warned that women who were using Krazy glue and similar adhesive products on the eyes were engaging in a dangerous habit.
"I will tell anyone who wants to put on the lashes fine, but that glue and any glue it can detach your retina. There is no glue that can be natural for your eyes. It is a dangerous act, a dangerous act," she said.
Meanwhile, Dr Oates said Graham's demise should not be taken lightly.
She said she intends to bring it to the attention of the National Association of Hairdressers and Cosmetologists, so that a survey can be done to ascertain the real dangers of hair glue and to send out an advisory to cosmetologists.
"We have to do something about it; we have to do more research in order to really inform the general public and cosmetologists. We have to do something about this," she said emphatically.