Hair Scare: Enviros attack salon treatment

The cranks at the Environmental Working Group tried to amp up the tired, 35-year scare over formaldehyde yesterday with a release entitled, “Hair Straighteners Release Potent Carcinogen.”

Keying off the hair-straightening treatment known as the “Brazilian Blowout,” EWG wants to terrify salon workers and their customers about formaldehyde-containing products used in the treatment.

The Brazilian Blowout: EWG's Hair Scare

As is the case with every substance, overexposure can cause adverse health effects. Overexposure to formaldehyde can cause eye, nose and throat irritation — no argument there. Accordingly, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has promulgated indoor air standards for formaldehyde.

These standards are set well-below the level at which epidemiologic studies indicate a possible increase in cancer risk. It is doubtful that salon workers, let alone their customers, are exposed to enough formaldehyde to incur a cancer risk — if one actually exists.

Regardless, there certainly is no real-world evidence that salon workers or their customers are at any risk of cancer from exposure to formaldehyde-containing products. This January 2010 study reported that salon levels of formaldehyde were less than 0.05 parts per million (ppm). OSHA’s limits are set 10 times higher.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *