(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Word is spreading about a salon product that promises longer-lasting results. Some U.S. women are lining up to get the Brazilian Blowout, a pricey method of hair-straightening that has been used by Jennifer Aniston, Lindsay Lohan, Reese Witherspoon and other celebrities. But recent testing shows the trademarked products may pose serious safety risks, which the manufacturer has flatly denied.
When staffers at an Oregon hair salon complained of eye irritation, nose bleeds and difficulty breathing after they used the products, state officials tested them. Chemists at the Oregon Occupation Heath and Safety Administration and the Oregon Health and Science University's Center for Research on Occupational and Environmental Toxicology tested a sample from the complaining salon and other salons in the area. They found the samples contained significant levels of formaldehyde, even though the product was labeled as formaldehyde-free.
The Oregon Health and Science University issued a public health alert Thursday about the product, in which it said two formulations of the product contained 4.85 percent to 10.6 percent formaldehyde. If a hair treatment solution contains more than 0.1 percent formaldehyde, the manufacturer is required to alert the stylist. Additional laboratory analysis also detected four additional chemicals in each sample that were not quantified in the lab, including methanol and ethanol.
Everyone is exposed to small amounts of formaldehyde in air and some foods and products. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says low levels of exposure can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat. High levels of exposure may cause some kinds of cancers, the CDC says.
The makers of Brazilian Blowout defended their product, saying they were conducting their own investigation. Because OSHA did not request samples directly from the company, Brazilian Blowout is questioning the results.
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