Hair salon workers exposed day in and day out to the chemical agents found in hair relaxers and coloring agents

Hair salon workers exposed day in and day out to the chemical agents found in hair relaxers and coloring agents

Following is a featured article from Reuters Health that was published on the Yahoo Site - Health News. It addresses occupational exposures and subsequent health risks to workers in hair salons (specifically, in this article, workers in Boston hair salons that serve primarily African-American women).

At Allerair we have models of air purifier ( nail salon air purifier, air cleaner, air scrubber models) that can help nail salon and hair salon owners, as well as their workers, provide a clean air environment in their place of business. [ PDF file of Special Carbon types ]

Thursday November 23 2:35 PM ET
Hair Salons May Pose Health Risks to Workers

By Keith Mulvihill

BOSTON (Reuters Health) - Hair salon workers exposed day in and day out to the chemical agents found in hair relaxers and coloring agents may be putting their health at risk, according to researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health in Massachusetts.

The investigators are exploring potential health risks of such exposures, according to a report presented here at the recent meeting of the American Public Health Association (news - web sites).

``We conducted a preliminary study to assess occupational exposures and subsequent health risks to workers in Boston hair salons that serve primarily African-American women,'' said lead investigator Julie Watts. ``We plan to use the information that we obtained to help salon workers so that they can reduce their exposure from potentially harmful products.''

The researchers surveyed 10 salons and interviewed a total of 56 workers. They found that 15% of the salon workers claimed to be suffering from asthma, eczema, and hives while 30% said they had hay fever. However, the study did not look to see if these conditions were a direct result of working in the salon.

The team also noted that the salon workers did not have access to material safety data sheets--literature provided by the manufacturer that explains proper handling of chemicals and exposure risks. Nor did they have any control over the ventilation of their surroundings.

``Some of the salon workers said that they performed about 20 hair relaxing treatments a day. These people have a high exposure compared to the general population,'' Watts told Reuters Health.

Relaxers contain lye and other caustic chemicals. These are needed to break the hydrogen sulfide bonds of the hair and make it straight, explained Watts. In addition, these products contain solvents such as propylene glycol, emollients, emulsifiers, perfumes and surfactants.

Exposure to chemicals found in relaxers and coloring agents have the potential to exert biological and physical effects on the body, Watts noted. These chemicals primarily enter the body through the skin and to a lesser extent through inhalation.

Documented health effects based on previous toxicological studies include burns, irritation to mucus membranes, dermatitis, coughing and airway irritation.

``The main recommendation that we make is to improve ventilation, and encourage the workers to get as much fresh air as possible,'' Watts stated. We ``also tell workers not to eat, drink or smoke when using these products so they don't accidentally ingest the chemicals.''

Another concern that Watts raises is the dangers that these products pose to children. About 75% of the salons in this study said that they do hair-relaxing treatments on children under the age of 12.

``We don't really know what the health effects are of using these types of products on very young children,'' she said.

``There are relaxers made for children and they may not be that different than ones for adults. To be prudent, I don't think you want to expose children to any chemicals unless the have to be exposed,'' Watts told Reuters Health.


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updated: November 11, 2015

Hair salon workers exposed day in and day out to the chemical agents found in hair relaxers and coloring agents