By Amy Norton
TUESDAY, Jan. 31, 2023 (HealthDay Information) — Black and Hispanic girls 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 girls of colour in workplace jobs, hair stylists had larger ranges of assorted chemical compounds of their urine. These substances included anticipated ones — elements recognized to be in salon merchandise — but additionally many extra the researchers couldn’t establish.
Specialists mentioned the findings underscore a necessity to higher perceive the chemical exposures inherent to salon work — and what the well being results could possibly be.
There may be explicit concern for Black girls and Hispanic girls within the trade, in line with senior researcher Carsten Prasse, an assistant professor of environmental well being and engineering at Johns Hopkins College in Baltimore.
These girls 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 spread of non-public care merchandise, generally comprise chemical compounds which are thought-about endocrine disruptors — which 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 girls who use them often.
A number of the chemical compounds in private care merchandise could also be acquainted to customers, akin 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 normal chemical suspects.
“We needed to open up the lens and see what else they’re being uncovered to,” Prasse mentioned.
So he and his crew analyzed urine samples from 23 hairdressers and 17 workplace staff, all of whom have been girls of colour. As a substitute of wanting 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 have 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 establish doable sources of the chemical compounds, utilizing a U.S. Environmental Safety Company database. They discovered information on 13 of the compounds, and most have been related to hair or different private care merchandise. Some others have been linked to cleansing merchandise or air fresheners which will generally be utilized in salons.
So the researchers assume that a lot of the extra chemical compounds present in hairdressers’ urine possible 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 not any doubt there are lots of “harsh chemical compounds” utilized in salons. But little is understood in regards to the particular substances salon staff soak up via their pores and skin or inhale — even compared to family private care merchandise.
“This space is form 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 could possibly be, he mentioned.
It could possibly be straightforward to imagine that the merchandise individuals slather onto their our bodies or apply to their hair are “protected.” However that might be a false assumption, Swei identified. The U.S. authorities doesn’t require well being research or pre-market checks of chemical compounds utilized in private care merchandise.
And whereas some merchandise tout themselves as freed from parabens or pthalates, for example, these claims will not be regulated, both, Swei mentioned.
It is an particularly daunting problem, each specialists mentioned, for salon staff to guard themselves from chemical exposures. So it’s vital 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 keeping with the researchers, there are roughly 700,000 hairdressers in the USA. Greater than 90% are girls and virtually one-third are Black girls or Hispanic girls. 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 may have an effect on being pregnant or the growing fetus is one other space that wants analysis, Prasse mentioned.
The findings have been printed Jan. 24 within the Journal of Publicity Science and Environmental Epidemiology.
The Environmental Working Group has a searchable database on elements 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