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Formaldehyde in chemical hair relaxers

Recent studies have linked the use of chemical hair relaxers to severe health problems, such as hormone-sensitive cancers. Although the large cosmetics companies market their hair straightening products as safe for regular use, along with the natural ingredients, they also contain a mix of chemicals, including phthalates, parabens, and formaldehyde.

Studies have linked formaldehyde exposure to various health problems, and research is ongoing as scientists continue to study the correlations between this hazardous chemical and cancer.

Formaldehyde, also known as formalin or methylene glycol, is an ingredient in many chemical hair relaxer products , which can release the chemical when heated.

Formaldehyde occurs naturally in the environment; it’s produced in small amounts during normal chemical processes in most living organisms. Formaldehyde is also produced industrially, and it’s a strong-smelling, colorless, flammable chemical that is used:

  • in building materials
  • in pressed-wood products
  • as disinfectant
  • as preservative in medical laboratories
  • as preservative in mortuaries
  • in glues and adhesives
  • in paper product coatings
  • in insulation materials

Main sources of exposure to formaldehyde

People are exposed primarily by inhaling formaldehyde vapors or absorbing substances containing formaldehyde through the skin.

Workers who produce formaldehyde, laboratory technicians, mortuary employees, and certain health care professionals may be exposed to higher levels of formaldehyde than others.

The general public can be exposed to formaldehyde by inhaling air from sources such as:

  • car tailpipe emissions
  • tobacco smoke
  • unvented fuel-burning stoves
  • kerosene heaters

Another potential source of exposure to formaldehyde, especially for women of color, is the use of professional and at-home chemical hair smoothing and straightening products.

Cancer associated with exposure to formaldehyde

Although the short-term effects of formaldehyde exposure are known, research about its potential long-term health effects is still ongoing. In 1987, the US Environmental Protection Agency classified formaldehyde as a potential carcinogen under high or long-term exposure conditions. The International Agency for Research on Cancer named formaldehyde as a human carcinogen.

In 2011, the National Toxicology Program classified formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen in the program’s 12th Report on Carcinogens.

Formaldehyde in hair relaxers linked to hormone-sensitive cancers

Hair straightening products are applied on hair to straighten or smooth out curls. When the relaxer is heated, the formaldehyde in the product is released into the air. If the salon is not properly ventilated, the hair stylists and their clients risk inhaling the formaldehyde vapors.

Formaldehyde in professional hair straightening products is still a common issue impacting the health of both hair stylists and their clients. While many hair straightening products have been restricted in Australia, Canada and several European countries for containing high levels of formaldehyde, there has been no subsequent regulation of these products in the US, and numerous potentially toxic hair care products are available on the market.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals such as formaldehyde are also found in at-home hair-relaxing products.

When buying hair relaxers, consumers can identify products containing formaldehyde-related ingredients by looking for:

  • formaldehyde
  • formalin
  • methylene glycol

Atraxia Law's team of experts can assist you in filing a toxic hair relaxer claim

At Atraxia Law, we are ready to determine whether you are eligible to file a toxic hair relaxer claim against the liable manufacturers. Regardless of what chemical hair straighteners you used over the years, there might be a correlation if you were diagnosed with hormone-sensitive diseases such as:

Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact our team of experts for a free case evaluation. We are aware that struggling with cancer is overwhelming. Therefore, we offer quick 10-minute case evaluations over the phone. If you meet the necessary eligibility requirements, we will put you in contact with an excellent attorney.

Free case evaluation

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