The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, is warning salon workers that they could be exposed to unhealthy levels of formaldehyde when performing "Brazilian Blowouts," and similar popular keratin hair treatments.
While several state governments and Canada have issued similar warnings, this is a first for the federal government.
Even some products labeled "formaldehyde-free" filled salons with formaldehyde fumes, according to OSHA testing. California's state-level OSHA recently identified two products that failed to label properly the hazards in their solutions: Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution and Brazilian Blowout Professional Brazilian Blowout Solution.
Before using any of these products, OSHA recommends looking not only for the term "formaldehyde" on ingredient lists, but for these ingredients, which are other formulations of formaldehyde: methylene glycol, formalin, methylene oxide, paraform, formic aldehyde, methanal, oxomethane, oxymethylene, or CAS Number 50-00-0. (OSHA: "Note that just because a product doesn't list formaldehyde, formalin, or methylene glycol does not mean that it does not contain any other hazardous ingredients.")
What's so bad about formaldehyde? According to OSHA:
Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas that presents a health hazard if workers are exposed. 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. It can irritate the eyes and nose, and cause coughing and wheezing. 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 is linked to nose and lung cancer. Formaldehyde is a health hazard, whether in a product or in the air.
The following are OSHA's tips for salons:
If you are using products with formaldehyde
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