Ten students were brought to local hospitals after a release of AXE body spray in a classroom at Medgar Evers College Preparatory School in Brooklyn, NY. Lehigh Valley Examiner readers recall the difficulties that Freedom High School student Brandon Silk has had with school attendance, due to his serious allergy to a component of AXE. Although Unilever, the manufacturer of AXE, has provided Brandon's family physician with a list of the components of the popular teen boy body spray, the family has found a patch test impractical, due to the extremely large number of potential allergens.
Brandon's mother tells local paper The Express-Times, "I thought that once my doctor got the ingredients of the fragrance, he would be able to patch test." Unfortunately for Brandon, such a test is impractical because of the number of potential allergens involved. One fragrance chemical reportedly contains 180 components.
In Brandon's case, mere proximity to another person wearing AXE is enough to set off a severe allergic reaction. At Medgar Evers College Prep, however, the release of the fragrance appears to have been an abnormal amount, judging from the wording of the statement issued by the school: "AXE spray was released in a sixth-grade classroom yesterday [...] Disciplinary action is pending." In addition to allergies like Brandon's, some individuals have skin contact allergies to fragrance components. The European Union is presently discussing the regulations for components of fragrances and makeup, and some scientists are arguing for an end to the exemption for cosmetics from labeling.
It is important to note that both natural and synthetic fragrance components can provoke allergic reactions. One scent known to cause reactions in susceptible individuals in both its natural and synthetic formulations is musk. In schools with students allergic to a particular fragrance, good citizenship demands courtesy toward these sensitive individuals, and at the very least, the choice to apply fragrances sparingly and off school grounds. Improvements in labeling and disclosure are also likely to contribute to greater clarity regarding the dangers of specific allergens.