Hair straightening products can release formaldehyde fumes.

Not too long ago, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) of the United States Department of Labor issued a health alert for hair smoothing products.

It warned that hair salon owners and workers could be exposed to formaldehyde from using Brazilian Blowout and other hair straightening treatments.

Many salon workers and stylists have reported difficulty breathing, headaches, stinging eyes and sore throats after working with these chemical hair smoothing products that involve flat-ironing the hair to make it smooth.

Calls for FDA to regulate hair products

Now, a Wall Street Journal article reports that members of congress are asking the Food and Drug Administration to issue a voluntary recall of two hair-straightening treatments sold in salons under the brand name Brazilian Blowout, citing concerns about unacceptably high levels of formaldehyde, a suspected carcinogen.

They cited a 2010 study by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division that found formaldehyde in the Brazilian Blowout Solution and Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution.

Products often mislabeled

The Oregon OSHA study measured samples of the two products and found they contained average formaldehyde levels of 8% for Brazilian Blowout Solution and 8.8% for Acai Professional Smoothing Solution, a product labeled “formaldehyde free.” Oregon OSHA’s threshold for disclosure of formaldehyde is 0.1%.

“These dangerous products are still available and used on a daily basis in salons across the United States,” the representatives wrote to the FDA. The lawmakers want the FDA to test chemical hair straighteners and recall those with high levels of formaldehyde, and they also want warning labels on the products.

The FDA is investigating and welcomes consumer input on their website.

Meanwhile, Mike Brady, chief executive of Brazilian Blowout, is quoted in the article as saying that the line is “a perfectly safe product that gives people the hair of a lifetime and generates money for the economy.” As for the letter to FDA, he says, “it’s not based on any fact. It’s just based on emotion.”

Salon workers to testify about their symptoms

At a Congressional staff briefing today, Wednesday, salon workers and technicians are scheduled to describe adverse health symptoms following their use of these hair smoothing products. The briefing is hosted by the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and advocacy groups Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and National Healthy Nail Salon Alliance.

Besides calls for more regulation, the company marketing Brazilian Blowout products also faces private-party legal complaints and a suit filed by the state of California. In April, the California attorney general filed a motion seeking a preliminary injunction to stop GIB LLC, the entity doing business as Brazilian Blowout, from selling the treatment line. The cases are being heard in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

In reaction to the controversy, the company has released Brazilian Blowout Zero, a treatment it says is free of formaldehyde and methylene glycol.

Source: Wall Street Journal

What we can do to help

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