Oregon Confirms Formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowout

Health officials in Oregon said last week that they have confirmed the presence of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">formaldehyde in Brazilian Blowout hair styling products. Last Friday, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) issued an alert to hair salons throughout the state regarding Brazilian Blowout and similar hair straightening products.

The Brazilian Blowout is a pricey salon treatment that promises to leave hair “frizz-free, shiny, effortlessly manageable and with plenty of body and bounce.” Results are said to last up to 12 weeks. According to its Website, the Brazilian Blowout “smoothes the hair through the use of a proprietary polymer system that bonds amino acids to the surface of the hair.” The site claims that the treatment is “100% salon safe.”

Oregon OSHA said in last Friday’s alert that testing of more than 100 product samples from more than 50 Oregon salons confirmed earlier test results that showed significant levels of formaldehyde in products labeled “formaldehyde free.” Of the product samples tested by Oregon OSHA, 37 came from bottles of Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution, labeled “formaldehyde free.” The formaldehyde content in that product averaged 8.68 percent. Under the OSHA formaldehyde standard (CFR 1910.1048), solutions with a formaldehyde content of more than 0.1 percent must list formaldehyde as an ingredient. Formaldehyde in solution is also referred to as formalin, aqueous formaldehyde, or methelyne glycol. Several other brands of hair straighteners were also found to contain more than 0.1 percent formaldehyde.

Oregon OSHA also conducted air monitoring during treatments using the Brazilian Blowout smoothing product at five different salons where a single treatment was conducted over the course of the day. Averaging over an eight-hour period, worker exposures ranged from 0.006 parts per million (ppm) to 0.331 ppm. These compare to a permissible exposure limit of 0.75 ppm. Although the limit was not exceeded for any of these stylists, multiple treatments would increase the daily average significantly, Oregon OSHA said.

During its air monitoring, Oregon OSHA also found short-term exposures ranging from a high of 0.108 ppm for one stylist to a high of 1.88 ppm for another. These compare to a short-term exposure limit of 2.0 ppm. Although it was not exceeded, the highest short-term exposure represents 94 percent of the short-term limit.

“Although it’s not clear whether the regulatory level of airborne exposure would be exceeded based on our results, it is clear that the levels are high enough to cause concern,” Michael Wood, Oregon OSHA administrator said in a statement. “And it is certainly clear that the amount of formaldehyde in many of these products is high enough to trigger the requirements of OSHA’s formaldehyde rules.”

Oregon OSHA is advising salons that use hair-smoothing treatments, particularly those referred to as “Keratin-based,” to take necessary precautions outlined in its formaldehyde rule. According to the rule, employers using products containing formaldehyde must provide information and training to workers and they must conduct air monitoring to ensure workers are not exposed to levels above the permissible limit. Providing personal protective equipment such as gloves or goggles and having an emergency eyewash station can help lower exposure levels.

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