Hazard alert released as formaldehyde furor continues

By Andrew McDougall

- Last updated on GMT

The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has released its latest call warning salon professionals about the danger of potential formaldehyde exposure when using hair smoothing treatments.

This hazard alert was the result of investigative work done by California OSHA, Oregon OSHA, and federal OSHA into hair-styling products, some of which are labeled as formaldehyde-free, and comes after Health Canada published its latest list of solutions containing unsafe levels of the substance.

Flaw in the accompanying information

"The work done jointly by federal OSHA and Cal/OSHA has found a critical flaw in the information accompanying these products, resulting in completely avoidable overexposures to a carcinogen, sensitizer, and irritant that simply should not be present in hair products,"​ said Ellen Widess, Chief of Cal/OSHA.

"Workers have a right and need to know about harmful substances they work with in order to protect themselves."

OSHA regulates formaldehyde as a cancer causing substance, and formaldehyde is listed as a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer.

Formaldehyde also irritates the skin, eyes, throat and respiratory system, and can cause asthma and skin and respiratory sensitization.

Cal/OSHA's testing of Brazilian Blowout's Acai Professional Smoothing and Brazilian Blowout Professional Solutions last year, found that formaldehyde was present in these products, and testing performed by federal OSHA found that use of these products caused workers to be overexposed to formaldehyde in the air they were breathing.

Formaldehyde not listed

Cal/OSHA further found that GIB, the US distributor of Brazilian Blowout, did not list formaldehyde as an ingredient on the products' labels, and in fact Acai Professional Smoothing Solution was labeled as "Formaldehyde Free."

They also did​not​list formaldehyde on the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) that are required to accompany the products when sold which are violations of California's Hazardous Substances Information and Training Act and occupational safety and health standards and resulted in the issuance of citations to Brazilian Blowout.

OSHA explained there are also several ongoing investigations into the products nationwide, including one by its Californian arm involving a hair salon in Long Beach.

"Because of the serious risks to both workers and consumers from exposure to these products, Cal/OSHA is also working with the Attorney General's office and the Department of Public Health, to ensure that workers and the public are informed and protected,"​ said Widess.

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