Fake nail glue leaves girl with chem­i­cal burns

The Dominion Post - - News - James Baker

Aroha Clarke was in shock when she saw smoke ris­ing from her eight-year-old daugh­ter’s legs.

‘‘She was scream­ing, ‘I’m burn­ing. I’m on fire, Mum’,’’ Clarke said. ‘‘A few sec­onds [later], that’s when we saw smoke com­ing off her.’’

Clarke says her daugh­ter Aza­leah been play­ing with makeup on Fri­day, No­vem­ber 2, af­ter shop­ping with her un­cle and buy­ing plas­tic nails and glue from a nov­elty store in Waiuku, near Auck­land.

Her daugh­ter had sat down that evening to watch a movie with the nail glue in hand.

‘‘She dropped and spilt it on her pants . . . sec­onds later she started scream­ing and cry­ing in pain.’’

As Aza­leah ran to her par­ents, there ap­peared to be white smoke bil­low­ing from the front of her black cot­ton tights, Clarke said.

"We were in shock, we didn’t know what to do, so her dad kind of just ripped the pants off her.’’

Clarke said re­mov­ing the pants tore off a large amount of skin.

‘‘We think that did quite a bit of dam­age, but how were we to know? It hap­pened all so fast.’’

The nail glue con­tained cyanoacry­lates, a com­mon ad­he­sive.

Pro­fes­sor Al­lan Black­man, head of the Depart­ment of Chem­istry, at Auck­land Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, said it was pos­si­ble sugar mol­e­cules in the cot­ton of the tights caused a rapid re­ac­tion with the glue.

‘‘That cre­ates a tremen­dous amount of heat and also forms acetic acid as a byprod­uct, so that can also po­ten­tially burn the skin.

‘‘And when you rip it off, as a glue it’s go­ing to take the skin with it. So those three bad things to­gether . . . it doesn’t bear think­ing about.’’

Aza­leah was taken to Mid­dle­more Hospi­tal by am­bu­lance. Clarke was told by med­i­cal staff her daugh­ter had suf­fered sec­ond­de­gree chem­i­cal burns and might need fu­ture skin grafts. ‘‘I just want ev­ery­one to know the dam­age this stuff can do,’’ she said.

Clarke con­tacted the store that sup­plied the glue and it promptly took the prod­uct off the shelves.

‘‘We didn’t know this glue [does] this, we are very, very sorry,’’ the store’s owner, Wei Zhang, said.

Evon Hen, a spokes­woman from the store’s sup­plier CIL Im­ports, said the com­pany re­gret­ted hear­ing that a child had been in­jured be­cause of nail glue and it hoped Aza­leah re­cov­ered soon.

How­ever, Hen said the glue was a prod­uct com­mon in other stores in New Zealand and it was up to the cus­tomer to read the warn­ing la­bels on the pack­ag­ing.

But Clarke said the small writ­ing at the back of the pack­ag­ing was not enough of a warn­ing. ‘‘That’s just stupid. If it can do that much dam­age, it should have been all over the pack­ag­ing re­ally. In big, black, bold writ­ing.’’

Aza­leah is now at home, af­ter be­ing dis­charged the next day. Clarke said her daugh­ter was still ‘‘very sore’’ and had told her mother the pain was a nine on a scale of one to 10.

En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Author­ity’s com­pli­ance man­ager for haz­ardous sub­stances, Matt Dean, said the la­belling on the glue pack­age did not com­ply with the Haz­ardous Sub­stances (Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion) Reg­u­la­tions 2001.

‘‘The EPA will use this in­for­ma­tion to con­tact the im­porter di­rectly, and ask them to re­move this item from sale un­til they can en­sure it meets the re­quire­ments of the HSNO Haz­ardous Sub­stances and New Or­gan­isms Act.’’

‘‘She dropped and spilt it on her pants . . . sec­onds later she started scream­ing and cry­ing in pain.’’

Aroha Clarke

Aroha Clarke and her daugh­ter Aza­leah, right.

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