Chem­i­cal pain

Feilding-Rangitikei Herald - - Front Page - SAM KILMISTER

A banned chem­i­cal used in a face cleanser – typ­i­cally found in paint and pes­ti­cide – was only spot­ted af­ter a cus­tomer raised con­cerns.

Carolyn Flay alerted the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Author­ity af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing ex­treme ir­ri­ta­tion, blood­shot eyes and con­stant in­fec­tions fol­low­ing her use of a Skin Physics face cleanser called Anti-Ox­i­dant Skin Care Duo.

The author­ity found the in­gre­di­ent ben­zisoth­ia­zoli­none, a bio­cide com­monly used in paint and pes­ti­cides and out­lawed in New Zealand, was in the cleanser.

There was no ev­i­dence that the banned chem­i­cal caused the Feild­ing woman’s in­juries, the agency’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Al­lan Freeth said, but ben­zisoth­ia­zoli­none was clas­si­fied as a skin ir­ri­tant and eye cor­ro­sive.

Fol­low­ing the author­ity’s in­ter­ven­tion, the man­u­fac­turer agreed to re-for­mu­late the prod­uct to meet the Cos­metic Prod­ucts Group Stan­dard.

Skin Physics had con­firmed it did not have any stock with the banned chem­i­cal avail­able for sale in New Zealand, Freeth said.

Skin Physics, based in Aus­tralia, could not be reached for com­ment.

Flay, 63, con­tacted the author­ity af­ter she had tried the cleanser on July 17, 2015, and some of it ran into her right eye.

It felt like acid was drip­ping into her eyes, she said.

‘‘I just re­mem­ber scream­ing and I thought I was go­ing to black out.’’

Flay rang Health­line, which in­structed her to wash her eyes out for ‘‘a cou­ple’’ of min­utes and visit a doc­tor the next day. Which she did.

For six weeks she suf­fered sev­eral eye in­fec­tions, pain and ir­ri­ta­tion, and she said her eyes were con­stantly red.

She took sleep­ing pills to get to sleep.

‘‘It was so hor­ri­ble I nearly took my life over it.’’

Flay said she had re­ceived the skin cleanser af­ter buying cos­met­ics from a TV in­fomer­cial.

She de­cided to send the cleanser to the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Author­ity in Au­gust 2016.

Claims for on­go­ing ACC com­pen­sa­tion have been de­nied, most re­cently in Au­gust this year, as a link be­tween ben­zisoth­ia­zoli­none and her eye trou­bles could not be es­tab­lished.

‘‘I can­not lead a nor­mal life now. I take drops 10 times a day, have vi­sion prob­lems, can’t be around paint, wear makeup. I can’t be nor­mal.’’

Op­tometrist re­ports fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent show Flay suf­fered from ‘‘dry eyes’’ and a ‘‘de­creased tear breakup time’’.

An­other med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate shows Flay had no record of any pre-ex­ist­ing eye con­di­tion prior to ap­ply­ing the cleanser.

How­ever, a re­port from op­tometrist Richard Holmes found Flay’s symp­toms weren’t con­sis­tent with a chem­i­cal burn and there was ‘‘no pos­si­bil­ity’’ of per­ma­nent dam­age.

The author­ity’s haz­ardous sub­stances act­ing man­ager Stephen Bokkerink said the other ingredients in the Skin Physics prod­uct were com­mon in cos­metic prod­ucts, such as sham­poos and other cleansers.

Ben­zisoth­ia­zoli­none is re­lated to methylisoth­ia­zoli­none, which was listed as the 2013 Con­tact Der­mati­tis Al­ler­gen of the Year by the Sci­en­tific Com­mit­tee on Con­sumer Safety.

PHOTO: MUR­RAY WIL­SON/STUFF

Af­ter on­go­ing eye prob­lems that Carolyn Flay be­lieved were caused by cos­met­ics, she alerted the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Author­ity.

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