Can Gorilla Glue kill you? The shocking dangers of using polyurethane adhesives on people and pets

Can Gorilla Glue kill you? The shocking dangers of using polyurethane adhesives on people and pets
Tessica Brown used Gorilla Glue as hairspray (CruzanChoklate, GorillaGlue/Twitter)

Next time you feel the impulse to reach for the Gorilla Glue Spray Adhesive bottle when you run out of hairspray, think again. Although your hair will be slick and line perfectly around your face, all baby hair in their place with definitely no flyaways, you do not want that stuff on your hair.

Tessica Brown (aka TikTok user @im_d_ollady) said it’s a "Bad, bad, bad idea.” And she learned it the hard way. But it’s not just a terrible hair day (read: month) that Gorilla Glue can give you. The adhesive is harmful if inhaled, an irritant to your eyes, skin and can cause a gastrointestinal blockage when ingested by people or pets. 


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Here’s what to know.

Bad, bad, bad hair day

Brown revealed the hair mishap in a TikTok video, posted on Thursday, which quickly went viral to over 2.5 million viewers. The Louisiana woman, while describing the incident, is shown patting her hair, explaining that not a single hair will move out of its place. She revealed that she kept this hairstyle for over a month.

"I've washed my hair fifteen times, and it don't move," Brown said. As perfect as her hair looked, she warned others not to make her mistake, "unless you want your hair to be like that forever."

Gorilla Glue is not supposed to be used anywhere on the body, including your hair or scalp. "Gorilla Glue is a spray adhesive not meant to be used on hair," Diane Stevens a professional hairstylist and owner of Cole Stevens Salon, tells Health. "It forms a clear, permanent bond that is moisture resistant and is irritating to the eyes, respiratory system and skin — I do not recommend it for hair!"



How to get out of a sticky situation

But in case such an accident does happen, the Gorilla Glue company recommends a variety of things you can use to get out of the sticky situation. Try warm, soapy water or rubbing alcohol to gently dissolve the glue. Textured-hair expert Diane Stevens (not from the company) recommends saturating and rubbing on a gentle oil like olive, almond, or baby oil for about fifteen minutes to attempt to remove the glue. 

Soaking the hair with acetone-based nail polish remover also does the trick. "It will possibly dry and damage your tresses but at least you will have tresses!" said Mona Gohara, MD, professor of dermatology at Yale.


Health hazards

If you have Gorilla Glue at home, it’s best to keep it in a place neither kids nor pets can find it. While classified as ‘nontoxic,’ this polyurethane-based adhesive contains a catalyzing agent called Diphenylmethane Diisocyanate (MDI), which, when coming in contact with water, expands rapidly to create a hard foam material.

The rate of this reaction is enhanced in a warm and acidic environment such as the stomach, and ingestion results in an obstruction of the stomach. Secondary complications such as life-threatening thermal burns to the esophagus and stomach can also come up as the reaction also produces heat.



What to do if the damage is done?

Watch out for symptoms of ingestion including loss of appetite, restlessness, difficulty breathing, vomiting or a change in behavior indicating pain. Signs generally develop within 15 minutes or upto 20 hours. It is important not to induce vomiting, as it can cause obstruction or injury. If the accident does occur, it is imperative to rush to a doctor for radiographs and appropriate treatment. If an obstruction develops, surgery is needed to remove the mass of glue.

Find the full precautions and associated health risks (including toxicity) of using Gorilla Glue in their safety sheet.

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