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Hair stylists who use certain products may harm their health.

Hair stylists who use certain products may harm their health.

NEW YORK – All a receptionist at Salon Zoë hair salon wanted to do was make her fellow employees aware of health hazards associated with products containing formaldehyde that were regularly used by haircutters and stylists at the business in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

Her employer responded by firing her.

As a result, the U.S. Department of Labor is suing the business and its owner, Kristina Veljovic, for discrimination, and seeking redress and compensation for the worker who exercised her rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

“This firing was illegal and inexcusable,” said Robert Kulick, regional administrator in New York for the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“It’s against the law to fire or otherwise retaliate against an employee for informing colleagues about possible health hazards in their place of employment. Such behavior not only intimidates workers, it also can deny them access to knowledge that will protect them against workplace hazards.”

The suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York says the worker began to experience respiratory distress in December 2011, including difficulty breathing and an impaired sense of smell. She sought medical attention on multiple occasions over the next several months. During this period, she also told her employer that she believed the salon’s hair-straightening products, which contain formaldehyde, were causing her health problems.

On June 27, 2012, she informed fellow employees of the presence of formaldehyde in the salon’s products and provided several co-workers with copies of an OSHA fact sheet* detailing the dangers of formaldehyde exposure.

Two days later, Kristina Veljovic terminated her employment. In July 2012, a physician confirmed that the worker’s respiratory distress resulted from her formaldehyde exposure at work. She subsequently filed an antidiscrimination complaint with OSHA, which investigated and found merit to her complaint.

“No employee should be fired for raising awareness of a potential workplace health hazard,” said Jeffrey Rogoff, the regional Solicitor of Labor in New York. “Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Labor Department has the authority to file suit against employers who retaliate against employees and it will do so when the case warrants. This is clearly one of those cases.”

The department’s lawsuit asks the court to affirm the discrimination charge and permanently prohibit the defendants from illegally retaliating against employees in the future.

It also seeks payment of lost wages as well as compensatory, punitive and emotional distress damages to the employee, an offer of reinstatement with full benefits and seniority and the removal of all references to the matter in the worker’s employment records.

It would also require the employer to prominently post a notice that she will not discriminate against employees.

In a related action, OSHA’s Tarrytown Area Office conducted an inspection of Salon Zoe and cited the company in December 2012 for lack of a chemical hazard communication program and for not providing the salon’s employees with information and training on formaldehyde and other hazardous chemicals.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower* provisions of the OSH Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, worker safety, public transportation agency, maritime and securities laws.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government.

Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor to request an investigation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available here.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

Source: OSHA

Remove dangerous chemicals in salons and spas

Hair salons, beauty centers and spas often use products that can contain and emit harmful chemicals and fumes.

Electrocorp's CleanBreeze 3 was conceived specifically for salons and spas

Electrocorp’s CleanBreeze 3 was designed for beauty salons and spas

These substances can affect worker health and well-being, especially after long-term exposure.

Electrocorp has designed a wide range of air cleaners for the hair styling and beauty industry, which help remove harmful fumes, chemicals, particles, odors and other contaminants from the ambient air.

Other air purifiers, such as Electrocorp’s CleanBreeze3, comes with a source capture attachment that can be positioned close to the head where the treatment is being used and helps remove harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde before they spread.

For more information and a free consultation, contact Electrocorp by calling 1-866-667-0297 or writing to sales@electrocorp.net.

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Brazilian Blowout agrees to pay consumers and stylists who claim they were harmed by the treatment.

The hair-straightening product Brazilian Blowout has been under siege for a while after numerous complaints from users, government inquiries and filed claims.

The reason for all the excitement is the formaldehyde-content in the products, which the company allegedly failed to label correctly.

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and a toxic volatile organic compound that is emitted during the hair straightening process when heat is applied to the product in the hair to straighten it.

The company was also the subject of a class-action lawsuit, which it agreed to settle on Monday for about $4.5 million.

The agreement stipulates that consumers that say they were harmed by the product get $35 for each treatment (with a maximum of three per person), while stylists would receive $75 for each bottle of the product they purchased.

The company also has to change its marketing and take off the “formaldehyde-free “claims on the products, while also providing more detailed instructions on safe use.

The company settled another lawsuit earlier this year when it agreed to the California attorney general’s office to pay $600,000 in fees and penalties and to warn consumers about the release of formaldehyde from the product.

The company is still allowed to sell the popular hair straightening product and people are free to use it – but the goal was to make sure they use it in a safe way, litigators said.

Source: New York Times

Chemical concerns in salons and spas

Formaldehyde is not the only chemical threat in hair salons and spas. Most hair products, including hairsprays, mousses, shampoos and other fragrance-filled treatments emit chemicals, volatile organic compounds and other toxins.

CleanBreeze 3: A powerful air cleaner with source capture.

While good ventilation and proper use of the products are essential, many ventilation systems are unable to provide enough fresh air to reduce the chemical concentration in the ambient air.

An industrial-strength air cleaner from Electrocorp can help. Electrocorp has designed air cleaners specifically for the hair salon and spa environment, including nail salons.

The air cleaners are equipped with many pounds of activated carbon, HEPA and other filters to remove the widest range of indoor air pollutants from the ambient air.

Other air cleaners also feature a special source capture attachment to remove toxins right at the source and prevent them from spreading into the space.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and suggestions.

Workers in the beauty industry may be exposed to formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

A whiff of formaldehyde, anyone?

Better skip it.

Federal agencies such as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) have issued public hazard alerts about exposure to formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a cancer-causing chemical that is used in many industries, including the health and beauty industry (in hair straightening treatments, for example), in the funeral and embalming industry, in mortuaries and laboratories for tissue preservation etc.

Workers who may be exposed to formaldehyde are covered by the OSHA Formaldehyde standard (29 CFR 1910.1048) and equivalent regulations.

The permissible exposure limit (PEL) for formaldehyde in the workplace is 0.75 parts formaldehyde per million parts of air (0.75 ppm) measured as an 8-hour time-weighted average (TWA). There are also higher short-term exposure limits for a maximum of 15 minutes.

Exposure to formaldehyde has been deemed a risk because it is an irritant that can affect eyes, nose and throat and can make people cough or wheeze.

Continued exposure to formaldehyde fumes has also been linked to severe allergic reactions and asthma-like respiratory problems. In high concentrations, formaldehyde can be fatal.

At many small to medium workplaces, it is difficult to enforce the standards because of a lack of awareness of the dangers and mislabeled products, according to OSHA.

Formaldehyde “hides” in many products under the names methylene glycol, formalin and oxomethane.

Beauty and hair salons have been racking up citations for violating the formaldehyde standard, but funeral homes and crematories are also guilty of violations.

Source: Business Insurance 

Use activated carbon air scrubbers for better indoor air quality

In most buildings where formaldehyde is used, the existing ventilation system won’t be enough to provide adequate fresh air exchanges.

Who hasn’t been assaulted by the strong chemical smells upon entering a hair or nail salon?

CleanBreeze 3: A powerful air cleaner with source capture.

Electrocorp provides strong and stand-alone air cleaners with many pounds of activated carbon plus HEPA filters to circulate clean and fresh air indoors.

Activated carbon is the safest and most effective filtration media to remove airborne chemicals, gases and fumes, and the other filters in the units also take care of dust, particles, bacteria, viruses and mold spores.

In their series of air cleaners for beauty salons and spas, Electrocorp offers source capture units with a flexible arm that can be placed right over the head of clients as treatments are applied.

The CleanBreeze 3 features up to 28 pounds of carbon in a very deep bed as well as a micro-HEPA filter and pre-filters.

Electrocorp’s RAP1224 FX8 is an even stronger source capture air cleaner with a 43 lb. carbon filter, a HEPA filter and pre-filters.

The units are equipped with long chords and wheels so that they can easily be moved from one workstation to the next.

Electrocorp also offers air cleaners for funeral homes and embalmers.

Contact Electrocorpfor more information and options.

Most hair salons use chemical-laden products that can affect workers and clients.

Organic products are popular when it comes to food, baby products or clothing – but a lot of hairdressers and salons are also catching on.

Some hair salons are focusing on offering only organic products and treatments, while others are looking to minimize the exposure to toxic chemicals conventional products may contain.

Concerned with chemicals and fumes, some salon owners in New York State have switched to all organic hair and skin products, including shampoo, hair dye, nail polish remover and more.

In the process, they have to be less concerned about chemicals such as acetone, formaldehyde, ammonia and others that are commonly found in hair and nail products.

Indoor air quality in salons has become a major topic after OSHA released a health hazard warning about formaldehyde early last year.

The ventilation system in many salons is simply not strong enough to provide workers and clients with healthy and fresh air.

Perm and hair straightening treatments are typically the biggest odor culprits in salons, and many salon owners and operators are opting for a source capture air cleaner for added protection from released chemicals and fumes.

Capture chemicals and odors with air cleaners for salons and spas

As an expert in treating industrial strength chemicals and odors, Electrocorp has designed air cleaners specifically for spas and salons.

The air filtration systems feature proprietary blends of activated carbon filter media that can adsorb chemicals and odors commonly found in the beauty industry.

As complete air filter solutions, the units also contain medical-grade HEPA or micro-HEPA filters to remove 99.97% of all airborne particles at 0.3 microns.

Along with easy-to-use source capture units, Electrocorp also offers customizable and built-in air filtration systems to meet your needs.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Straight hair may come at a price: Most straighteners contain more formaldehyde than advertised, a new study claims.

A new study that tested the formaldehyde content in four keratin hair straighteners found that three out of the four products contained more formaldehyde than what was claimed.

The research was done by the San Francisco-based scientific consulting firm, ChemRisk, and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

The four products reviewed were:

  1. Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution
  2. Global Keratin Juvexin Optimized Functional Keratin
  3. Coppola Keratin Complex Blonde Formula
  4. La-Brasiliana Escluso Keratin Treatment

Out of these four, only La-Brasiliana Escluso Keratin Treatment tested formaldehyde-free as claimed on the product.

Brazilian Blowout was labeled as formaldehyde-free, but contained 11.5% formaldehyde and Coppola contained 3% formaldehyde, the study found. Global Keratin correctly identified its product to contain formaldehyde, but it was more than twice as much as it claimed: 8.3%.

What is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is a cancer-causing chemical that is used in many industries, including the beauty industry and the funeral business (body preserving fluid).

Formaldehyde helps bind keratin to hair and helps straightening it. It is released when hair treated with keratin products is heated with a blow dryer and then with a hot flat iron, as the labeling recommends.

Salon workers using a formaldehyde-releasing hair straightening product have complained about the following health effects:

  • Eye and throat irritation
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Burning sensations
  • Breathing problems
  • Nosebleeds
  • Chest pain
  • Vomiting
  • Rashes

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel said that formaldehyde is safe in cosmetic products when formulated with minimal effective concentrations. The panel said those concentrations should not exceed 0.2%.

Formaldehyde exposure an occupational hazard

The study examined the occupational health and safety risks for beauty salon stylists and workers by measuring the formaldehyde content over the duration of the treatment and in different parts of the salon.

For the three products that contained formaldehyde, “the highest exposures were measured for the salon worker and client receiving the treatment,” said the study’s lead author, Jennifer Pierce.

Brazilian Blowout ranked highest in terms of exposure, followed by Global Keratin and Coppola.

The air was tested in a salon with an effective ventilation rate of two to three air replacements per hour.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Air cleaners for hair salons and spas

CleanBreeze 3: Filters out chemicals, gases and fumes

Salon hair products like hair straighteners, hair dyes and hair sprays can release harmful pollutants into the ambient air.

Electrocorp has designed air cleaners for hair salons and spas that feature a large activated carbon filter to adsorb chemicals and odors as well as a HEPA filter and pre-filters for the removal of particles and dust.

The stand-alone air cleaners with source capture attachment provide a cost-effective and powerful air cleaning solution to salons and spas where floor space is limited, and Electrocorp also offers source capture solutions that can be incorporated into the design of the salon.

Contact us today for more information and recommendations: 1-866-667-0297.

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