U.S. Lawmakers Seek Brazilian Blowout Probe

In May, we wrote that Congress was urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a voluntary recall of two controversial salon hair-straightening treatments over concerns about significant formaldehyde levels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently deemed <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/toxic_substances">formaldehyde a probable human carcinogen.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that about 10 House members have asked the FDA to look into the expensive salon treatments, including Brazilian Blowout, over health concerns linked to the products’ often dangerous ingredients. “It came to my attention that people were getting very sick, that there was hair fall, there were respiratory issues, there were all kinds of problems with Brazilian Blowout,” said Representative Jan Schakowsky (Democrat-Illinois), quoted the AP. “This product I think is in some ways the poster child for the problem that we have with cosmetics and various treatments.”

Schakowsky, Representative Ed Markey (Democrat-Massachusetts), and eight others wrote to the FDA this May seeking increased regulation and labeling of the formaldehyde-containing products, said the AP. “The consequences are so serious, and people are paying a lot of money for various treatments that they get, and we don’t want them to put themselves in danger,” Schakowsky said, quoted the AP.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Yao said the products are being reviewed by the FDA adding that, “It’s important to note that hair straighteners are considered cosmetics and are not subject to pre-market approval…. The use of formaldehyde in hair straighteners is not prohibited, and there are no limits on the level in our regulations,” quoted the AP, citing Yao’s emailed statement.

The Brazilian Blowout and similar products are pricey salon treatments that promise 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.”

In October, health officials in Oregon issued an alert to hair salons there after workers at one Oregon salon complained that they had suffered eye irritation, nose bleeds, and difficulty breathing after using the Brazilian Blowout. At the time, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) said it had found significant levels of formaldehyde in the hair-smoothing solution sold under the name Brazilian Blowout. It later broadened the alert, telling salons that use hair-smoothing treatments, particularly those referred to as “Keratin-based,” to take necessary precautions outlined in its formaldehyde rule. The FDA has been investigating the hair products.

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review intends on completing a study on formaldehyde-containing products. The group is independent and the study is expected by September, said The AP; however, the Review issued a tentative conclusion last month in which it stated that “formaldehyde and methylene glycol are unsafe for use in hair smoothing products. Anytime you have water and methylene glycol, you are going to have formaldehyde. It’s automatic. You can’t stop it,” said F. Alan Andersen, director of the review, quoted the AP. “So, saying ‘formaldehyde free’ for a product that has methylene glycol, is at best, misleading and under FDA law, could make the product misbranded,” he added.

A Brazilian Blowout class action lawsuit was just filed, seeking millions for the users of the popular hair straightening treatments. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Diego, California, alleges that Brazilian Blowout claims the hair treatments contain no harsh chemicals, when in fact, they expose users to formaldehyde. The Brazilian Blowout lawsuit, one of many such claims filed in the wake of the Oregon health alert, seeks more than $5 million in class damages for fraud by omission, unjust enrichment, breach of warranty, intentional misrepresentation, false advertising and violation of business laws.

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