HAIRSTYLISTS and consumers are exposed to a number of health and safety hazards at hairdressing salons. Apart from the physical and chemical hazards, one may have tendencies to respiratory problems as well.

In the salons, you are exposed to sprays and lacquers and may end up with lung dysfunction. Aerosols are particularly hazardous because they contain extremely small droplets that can make their way to the lungs where they can do the most harm.

> Chemical Hazards

DERMATITIS — caused by substances used at the salons. The skin becomes dry, itchy, sore and may crack. It is caused in 2 ways:

Allergic dermatitis
Some chemicals cause allergies among many people, for example, paraphenylenediamine, a black dye. This substance has been banned in France, Germany and Sweden but EEC (European Economic Community) regulations allow up to 6% in hair dyes.
Other sensitising chemicals to avoid include formaldehyde found in shampoo, ammonium thioglycolate found in perm solution and ammonium persulphate found in bleach.

Chemicals in dyes that can lead to allergies include PPD: p-phenylenediamine, PTD: p-tolylenediamine and ONPPD: O-nitro-p-phenylenediamine.

> Irritant dermatitis
THIS is the most common form of dermatitis among hairstylists. If hairstylists handle perm solutions, shampoos, etc, too often or in solutions that are too strong, their skin becomes cracked and dry. When this happens over a long period, dermatitis results.

> Respiratory Problems
HAIRSTYLISTS have an increased incidence of respiratory problems like asthma and hypersensitivity pneumonitis (an allergic reaction which seems like pneumonia). These are caused by certain dyes and hairsprays.

> Cancer
SOME chemicals used in dyes are suspected carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). Some dyes, however, have been shown to cause cancer in animals. Other chemicals (dyes such as Direct Black 38 and Direct Blue 6) can be absorbed by the skin and broken down in the liver into benzidine, a substance known to cause cancer in people.

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