By Amy Norton
TUESDAY, Jan. 31, 2023 (HealthDay Information) — Black and Hispanic ladies who work as hairdressers are uncovered to an array of chemical compounds, together with many who haven’t been beforehand recognized, a small research finds.
Researchers discovered that in contrast with ladies of colour in workplace jobs, hair stylists had increased ranges of varied chemical compounds of their urine. These substances included anticipated ones — substances identified to be in salon merchandise — but additionally many extra the researchers couldn’t determine.
Consultants mentioned the findings underscore a necessity to higher perceive the chemical exposures inherent to salon work — and what the well being results might be.
There’s specific concern for Black ladies and Hispanic ladies within the trade, in response to senior researcher Carsten Prasse, an assistant professor of environmental well being and engineering at Johns Hopkins College in Baltimore.
These ladies might have particularly excessive publicity to chemical hair merchandise like straighteners and dyes, as a result of their shoppers typically need these companies.
Hair merchandise, in addition to a variety of non-public care merchandise, generally include chemical compounds which are thought-about endocrine disruptors — that means they might intrude with the physique’s hormones. Research have linked a few of these merchandise, together with hair straighteners and dyes, to elevated dangers of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers in ladies who use them often.
A number of the chemical compounds in private care merchandise could also be acquainted to customers, corresponding to parabens, pthalates and bisphenols. (Sure manufacturers market themselves as being freed from these chemical compounds.)
And when research have tried to delve into hairdressers’ chemical exposures, they’ve solely examined for these traditional chemical suspects.
“We needed to open up the lens and see what else they’re being uncovered to,” Prasse mentioned.
So he and his group analyzed urine samples from 23 hairdressers and 17 workplace staff, all of whom had been ladies of colour. As a substitute of trying just for anticipated substances, the researchers used a screening methodology that has been employed to hunt for chemical compounds lurking in meals and wastewater.
General, they discovered, hairdressers had been uncovered to extra chemical compounds than workplace staff, together with many who haven’t been beforehand reported in hair stylists.
“With a lot of the compounds we recognized, we do not even know what they’re,” Prasse mentioned.
The researchers tried to determine attainable sources of the chemical compounds, utilizing a U.S. Environmental Safety Company database. They discovered information on 13 of the compounds, and most had been related to hair or different private care merchandise. Some others had been linked to cleansing merchandise or air fresheners which will generally be utilized in salons.
So the researchers suppose that a lot of the extra chemical compounds present in hairdressers’ urine seemingly got here from the office.
The massive query is: Are these chemical compounds a poisonous brew?
Homer Swei is senior vp of wholesome residing science for the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.
He mentioned there is no doubt there are a lot of “harsh chemical compounds” utilized in salons. But little is understood concerning the particular substances salon staff take in by means of their pores and skin or inhale — even compared to family private care merchandise.
“This space is type of the forgotten little one,” mentioned Swei, who was not concerned within the research.
He referred to as the findings “a primary step.” Extra analysis is required to grasp whether or not hairdressers are uncovered to “an excessive amount of” of those chemical compounds, and what the potential well being affect might be, he mentioned.
It might be straightforward to imagine that the merchandise individuals slather onto their our bodies or apply to their hair are “secure.” However that might be a false assumption, Swei identified. The U.S. authorities doesn’t require well being research or pre-market exams of chemical compounds utilized in private care merchandise.
And whereas some merchandise tout themselves as freed from parabens or pthalates, as an example, these claims aren’t regulated, both, Swei mentioned.
It is an particularly daunting problem, each specialists mentioned, for salon staff to guard themselves from chemical exposures. So it is important to grasp what’s within the merchandise they habitually use, and whether or not they carry well being dangers.
That might result in the event of higher merchandise, Prasse mentioned.
In line with the researchers, there are roughly 700,000 hairdressers in the US. Greater than 90% are ladies and virtually one-third are Black ladies or Hispanic ladies. And there is one other layer, Prasse identified: Many work in these jobs whereas pregnant — as did half of the hairdressers on this research.
Whether or not and the way salon chemical compounds might have an effect on being pregnant or the creating fetus is one other space that wants analysis, Prasse mentioned.
The findings had been printed Jan. 24 within the Journal of Publicity Science and Environmental Epidemiology.
The Environmental Working Group has a searchable database on substances in private care merchandise.
SOURCES: Carsten Prasse, PhD, assistant professor, environmental well being and engineering, Johns Hopkins College, Baltimore; Homer Swei, PhD, senior vp, wholesome residing science, Environmental Working Group, Washington, D.C.; Journal of Publicity Science and Environmental Epidemiology, Jan. 24, 2023, on-line