Michael Woods, Administrator for Oregon OSHA, emailed me directly regarding their testing of the keratin smoothing treatment Brazilian Blowout. Michael states, “We issued our report today[October 29, 2010] which includes (among other things) our bulk sampling results for several products, our air monitoring results for Brazilian Blowout, and our discussion of the methylene glycol issue, (which was reviewed by a number of chemistry and toxicology PhDs). You can find it at http://www.orosha.org/pdf/Final_Hair_Smoothing_Report.pdf.”
The report is quite technical and lengthy. If you like to skip to the end, here is the final conclusion:
Oregon OSHA and CROET have concluded that there are meaningful risks to salon workers
when they are confronted with these hair smoothing products. Effective control of those risks
depends upon accurate information regarding the potential hazards and the control measures
available, which in turn begins with an accurate understanding of the ingredients and the
potential harm they may cause. In conjunction with this report, Oregon OSHA is advising Oregon salons and stylists that hairsmoothing treatments – particularly those generally referred to as “Keratin-based treatments” should generally be treated as formaldehyde-containing products and the requirements of the OSHA Formaldehyde Standard must be followed when there are employees under the Oregon Safe Employment Act (OSEA). Further, employers should be advised that any product that contains “methylene glycol” will continue to be treated as a formaldehyde-containing product under the OSEA.“
Michael also included additional links to share with you:
- Oregon OSHA Press Release: http://www.cbs.state.or.us/osha/admin/newsrelease/2010/nr2010_28.pdf
- A fact sheet Oregon OSHA is sending to Oregon stylists and salons can be found at http://www.orosha.org/pdf/hazards/2993-26.pdf
I think this guide is fantastic information. It explains what formaldehyde is, how stylists are exposed, how salons can protect their employees and help understanding exposure levels as well as health risks. I hope you pass it on to every stylist you know! Here is a sample of the material that can be found on the fact sheet. Please see the fact sheet for full information:
“In response to health concerns raised by local hair salons, Oregon OSHA conducted extensive testing
of hair-straightening and smoothing products in the fall of 2010. The agency found significant levels of
formaldehyde in many popular products, despite being labeled “formaldehyde free.” If salons choose to
continue using these products, they must provide training and information to their workers and ensure
their workers are not overexposed. This hazard alert provides general information about formaldehyde
exposure and steps salons should take to protect their employees.”
What should salons do to protect their workers?
Know how much your workers are exposed when using products that contain formaldehyde! Employers must conduct air monitoring to identify all workers who may be exposed to formaldehyde at or above certain exposure levels (explained later). Here are some options:
- Purchase air monitoring equipment, such as a passive sampler.
- Call Oregon OSHA at 800-922-2689 and request a consultation.
- Contract with an industrial hygienist.
Oregon OSHA conducted air monitoring at several local salons to determine the exposure levels for workers using hair-straightening products. Air monitoring is clearly required when workers who use products that contain formaldehyde experience symptoms of exposure.
Despite these publications by Oregon OSHA, Brazilian Blowout remains optimistic, stating the following on their website:
Oregon OSHA Confirms:
“Exposure to Cosmetologists and Clients is well below OSHA’s Air Level Requirements.
OSHA’s Action Level of 0.5 parts per million is the most stringent level of exposure set by the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
On October 29, 2010, Oregon OSHA released results of a comprehensive air monitoring study conducted across seven salons. Each case yielded formaldehyde exposure levels well beneath OSHA’s Action Level, Permissible Exposure Level (PEL), and Short-Term Exposure Level.
The average Formaldehyde gas exposure level for the seven salons tested by Oregon OSHA was 0.079 parts per million; well beneath the OSHA Action Level of 0.5 parts per million.
Sample Case Study #7 (cited directly from Oregon OSHA’s recent report entitled “Keratin Based” Hair Smoothing Products And the Presence of Formaldehyde):
Case 7: The seventh salon had four stations with a false ceiling. No doors or window were left open and the stylist did not use any fans during the treatment. She did not wear gloves.
Breathing zone samples were placed on the stylist during the process, which took 94 minutes. The samples were changed every 15 minutes. Samples were also placed to the right of the stylist, near the stylist’s sink and to the left of the stylist. The stylist’s peak exposure was 0.471 ppm, while applying the solution. Her average exposure during the procedure was 0.255 ppm and the 8 hour average was 0.050 ppm.
The results did not exceed the 8-hour limit and it is unlikely that multiple treatments would have done so.
In referencing Brazilian Blowouts recently released air sample test results, Oregon OSHA confirms the following:
“The company released air monitoring results on October 15, 2010, taken from two stylists performing two treatments each in a single salon. The only results reported were for the eight-hour average exposure, which came to 0.064 ppm for one stylist and 0.073 ppm for the other. The middle of the salon also was tested, providing an eight-hour average of 0.016.58
In general, these results – although less detailed – are not inconsistent with Oregon OSHA’s air monitoring results, which included both results that were higher and results that were lower than those reported by the company.”
CONCLUSION: Air sample tests conducted by Oregon OSHA and HSA (those published by Brazilian Blowout) yield remarkably consistent results; both demonstrating that formaldehyde exposure levels are safely below OSHA’s Action Level.”
If you are a salon owner, employee or stylist we want to hear from you! Will your salon continue to offer the Brazilian Blowout? If so, will you impliment additional safety precautions for yourself and your clients?