Boy who 'wanted to smell good' killed by deodorant

Thursday 29 October 1998 01:02 GMT

A TEENAGER died from deodorant fumes because of his obsession with personal hygiene, an inquest heard.

Jonathan Capewell, 16, had 10 times the lethal dosage of propane and butane in his blood, a coroner heard.

Jonathan became obsessed with smelling fresh and would cover his entire body in deodorant at least twice a day. He died after suffering a heart attack. It is believed that the gases built up in his body over months during which Jonathan repeatedly sprayed himself in the bedroom of his home in Oldham, Greater Manchester.

The coroner, Barrie Williams, recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Jonathan's father, Keith Capewell, 43, 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."

Jonathan's death is believed to be the first by accidental inhalation in the UK. There was no evidence that he was a substance abuser.

The coroner said: "I accept there was no experimentation with solvents, but rather a high use of deodorant.

"His personal hygiene led him to use more than was normal in a confined space which limits ventilation."

Jonathan's mother, Louise, called for better warnings to be put on aerosol cans. "You just get up in the morning and spray it on, but who expects it to kill you?" she said.

"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."

Cans of Lynx, Gillette and Right Guard deodorant 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 the utmost urgency to ensure that everything possible is done to maintain good practice."

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in