Update: Local Salon Ceases Brazilian Blowouts Due to Health Risks | Business

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Update: Local Salon Ceases Brazilian Blowouts Due to Health Risks
Business, Health, Style
Update: Local Salon Ceases Brazilian Blowouts Due to Health Risks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hair salons across the country are being warned about smoothing and straightening products potentially containing formaldehyde.

The Brazilian Blowout and other brands of smoothing treatments were first questioned in October 2010, when employees at an Oregon salon reported difficulty breathing, nose bleeds and eye irritation when using the products.

Health officials in Oregon tested Brazilian Blowout and other brands and found trace levels of formaldehyde in the air at several salons, and significant amounts in the product itself.

Health alerts were issued in several states.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a nation-wide hazard alert and said it is "responding to complaints and referrals about possible exposure to formaldehyde."

"I'm so glad it doesn't look like I'm doing a science experiment in there anymore," said Chudni Baker, the keratin specialist at Daniel James Salon.
 
"Before the news and everything had gotten out about how really bad this was for you, we had switched over to the organic," Baker said, "because we already knew."
 
The products in question are brands of hair straightening treatments, including the popular Brazilian Blowout, which promises to keep hair smooth and frizz-free without harsh chemicals.

"Workers have the right to know the risks associated with the chemicals with which they work, and how to protect themselves," said OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels in a statement released today. "Employers need to know these risks in order to ensure the safety and health of their employees."

A professional applies it, blows it dry and flat irons it.
 
Once certified in applying the blowout, Baker knew the procedure, requiring goggles and ventilation masks, was extreme.
 
"The smell mostly comes out in the last process when the sealing starts, when you're ironing through," Baker explained. "That's when the smell starts to really get into the air and it is a very strong smell, eye-watering."
 
She said she found herself getting headaches, coughing, experiencing burning eyes and saw guests with the same symptoms.
 
According to OSHA, the reported symptoms can be caused by formaldehyde which is also linked to nose and throat cancer.

Testing by Oregon OSHA showed at least nine types of smoothing treatments were over the OSHA Formaldehyde Standard threshold of 0.1 percent.

The Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution listed as "Formaldehyde Free" topped the list: averaging 8.8 percent formaldehyde.

The Brazilian Keratin treatment Baker previously used averaged 1.6 percent formaldehyde.
 
Brazilian Blowout did not respond to a call for comment.

First Coast News also spoke with another salon owner who insisted the brand they use is safe and contains methylene glycol instead of formaldehyde.
 
But OSHA recommends salon owners avoid products that contain not only formaldehyde, but also other forms of formaldehyde including methylene glycol, formalin, methylene oxide, paraform, formic aldehyde, methanal, oxomethane, oxymethylene or Chemical Abstract Service Number 50-00-0.

A panel of experts called into question whether any product can be considered safe if it is intended to be used in a way that produces formaldehyde vapor. Products can contain formaldehyde or other controversial chemicals but only at very low levels.

The cosmetic ingredient review panel confirmed that even though a product may not list formaldehyde in its ingredient list, it can be formed when a keratin-based product is heated up, exposing stylists and consumers to potentially hazardous levels of the toxic gas and suspected carcinogen.

After hearing of another hairstylist who was diagnosed with non-smoker's lung cancer after performing many of the procedures, Baker is scared.
 
"I'm going down to Baptist just to get checked out for a biopsy," she said.
 
She urges stylists and customers to be smart and says a better hair day is not worth risking your health.

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