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Alert: Toxic Hair Treatments

04.19.11 Alert: Toxic Hair Treatments

hair treatment post

People go to great lengths to have beautiful hair. But is wearing a gas mask going too far?  OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has issued a hazard alert surrounding the usage of products involved in straightening hair, particularly the trendy "Brazilian Blowout". The alert went into effect this week after dangerously high levels of formaldehyde were found in the air of salons using these hair-straightening keratin products—even though, as the report discloses, the products are often listed as "formaldehyde-free".

After reported side effects including hair loss, blistered scalps, nosebleeds, eye irritation and difficulty breathing, tests were performed on this hot product and found that it contained 10% Formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen and allergen. OSHA states, "Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas. You can be exposed to formaldehyde if you breathe it into your lungs, if it gets into your eyes, or if it is contained in a product that gets onto your skin. You can also be exposed accidentally if you touch your face, eat food, or drink after using a product containing formaldehyde without first washing your hands. Formaldehyde is a "sensitizer," which means that it can cause allergic reactions of the skin, eyes, and lungs such as asthma-like breathing problems and skin rashes and itching. When formaldehyde is in a product that gets sprayed into the eyes, it can damage the eyes and cause blindness. It is also a cancer hazard that has been linked to nose and lung cancer."

Stacy Malkan, co-founder of the national campaign for safe cosmetics, writes "It's time to bring the FDA and federal cosmetic regulations into the 21st century. The federal Safe Cosmetics Act, would give the FDA the authority to do its job of protecting the public. First introduced in 2010, the law would prohibit cancer-causing chemicals (like formaldehyde) from cosmetics, require full labeling of personal care products and set up a system to assess ingredient safety."

John Bailey, former FDA official and current spokesperson for the cosmetics industry was even surprised by the recent warning. As he told TIME magazine, he'd "never before seen OSHA issue a warning of this sort before the FDA had acted."

After reading this information, I've certainly wondered about the rest of the salon customers, simply getting a haircut, without a mask, a couple of chairs away...

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