The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a Hazard Alert for anyone using or working with Brazilian Blowout hair straightening products. According to a release on OSHA's website:
Federal OSHA and State OSHA programs are investigating complaints from stylists and hair salon owners about exposure to formaldehyde while using GIB LLC dba (doing business as) Brazilian Blowout products and other hair smoothing products. OSHA has found formaldehyde in the air when stylists use hair smoothing products. Some had "formaldehyde-free" on the label or did not list formaldehyde on the product label or in the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS).
Under the "What is formaldehyde and how can it affect my health?" heading, OSHA explains:
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.
Back in October, stylists at an Oregon hair salon reported difficulty breathing, nosebleeds and eye irritation after coming into contact with the formula. And most recently, the state of California "filed a proposed preliminary injunction," Women's Wear Daily writes, after Brazilian Blowout's Smoothing Solution was found to contain more than eight times the amount of permissible formaldehyde.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit organization that aims to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment, points out that six other countries, including (possibly) Canada (editor's note: we're checking on that), have pulled hair-straightening chemicals from shelves and salons due to excessive levels of formaldehyde.
EWG senior scientist David Andrews remarked, "Chemicals known to cause cancer shouldn't be hidden ingredients in any products that people inhale or apply to their skin....While not as common as a haircut, these straightening procedures happen in salons across the country each day."
OSHA says it will continue to partner with the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to assess the exact gravity of the situation.