U.S. National Toxicology Program lists formaldehyde as a carcinogen
That popular hair straightening treatment Brazilian Blowout set the media on fire with this treatment that promised women straight hair for up to six months and labeled “formaldehyde free” has now once again hit the media as it turns out that two of the products in all reality expose women to formaldehyde gas according to terms of a settlement reached with the California attorney general. Now, the manufacturers of this popular treatment requires that hair stylists and their customers be warned that the product exposes them to formaldehyde a known carcinogen that is cancer causing.
Allegations of eye irritation and nose burning had been reported by two Portland salons. The company that manufactures the hair straightening product websites and marketing materials had claimed that the product was formaldehyde free. However, the Oregon Health & Science University had found formaldehyde levels as high as 4.85 to 10.6 percent contained in the treatment.
The U.S. National Toxicology Program officially lists formaldehyde as a substance which is known to cause cancer. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) have declared that one product the Brazilian Blowout Acai Professional Smoothing Solution does contain unacceptable levels of formaldehyde.
The FDA had sent a warning letter to Mike Brady CEO, GIB, LLC dba Brazilian Blowout letter dated on August 22, 2011. Contained in the letter the FDA stated that the companies products had contain formaldehyde and that the product was mislabeled. What was expected to come next from the FDA was removal of the product. Instead the agency had concentrated its efforts on mislabeling.
GIB problems did not stop with the FDA waring letter, the state of California, where the company has its headquarters, had been sued.
Today in a press release by the State of California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General, Attorney General Kamala D. Harris has announced a settlement with the manufacture of Brazilian Blowouts products will require the company to warn both the consumers and hair stylists that two of the companies most popular products emit formaldehyde gas. Those two products are Brazilian Blowout Acai Smoothing Solution and Brazilian Blowout Professional Smoothing Solution.
The company must also produce a complete and accurate safety information which includes a cancer warning. They must also affix “CAUTION” stickers to the bottles of the above mentioned products and need to take precautionary measures that include adequate ventilation.
The company will also be paying out $3000,000 Proposition 65 (cancer warning) civil penalties and another $300,000 to the attorney generals office for fees and costs.
Director of Science and Research for Women's Voices for the Earth, Alexandra Scranton, stated across the U.S., salon workers are exposed to dangerous levels of formaldehyde from hair smoothing products which have been banned for more than a year in Canada and other countries. Further noted is they are pleased “California is using the authority it has to hold the company responsible for how it's communicating about its product, and let consumers know that, 'Yes, this product does contain formaldehyde, which is dangerous.'"
Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and it can cause serious and long term health effects that includes bloody noses, nausea and difficulty in breathing.
The Environmental Working Group spokesperson Leeann Brown, had stated "We're really calling on the FDA to ban formaldehyde as an ingredient in these popular products, so consumers and salon workers aren't inhaling a known human carcinogen."
Last year the group had conducted an investigation and had found 16 companies that include formaldehyde in their hair smoothing products.
One hair stylist Jennifer Goeres-Arce in the San Diego area had contributed evidence to California State lawsuit. She notes that the Brazilian Blowout is the perfect case study to showcase the broken regulatory system. A year after other countries banned Brazilian Blowout, countless salon workers in the U.S. have been unnecessarily exposed to formaldehyde, and we are just now getting around to requiring the company to be honest about the risks of their products. It’s time to give the FDA the power and resources to protect the American public from toxic chemicals in cosmetics.”
While there are opponents in every case they are noting in this one that people have the right to expose themselves to whatever carcinogens they choose.
Health advocates are pressuring the FDA to do more especially since the decision in California has been released.
The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance are calling upon the FDA not only to carry out their threat to seize Brazilian Blowout products but also to ban the use of formaldehyde in hair products.
While some salon owners are joining the class-action lawsuits against GIB there are some that still offer the products and will continue to do so such as hair stylist Janelle Hernandez that states "My clients love it and I believe in it.” "It's been really, really great for my business."
How are stylists in the Detroit area handling the news on Brazilian Blowouts?
Stylist Amanda Love is offering the Original Brazilian Blowout out of her Royal Oak home. As she notes on her website: “I'd rather not expose other clients and coworkers that could possibly have asthmatic issues or be pregnant. This process can definitely be done safely, when the product is correctly used. A carbon filter mask will be available if you desire, along with an industrial strength air purification system running throughout the entire process.”