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Hair Smoothing Products That Could Release Formaldehyde - Time line


July 2010
August 2010
  • August, 2010, Oregon-OSHA reported analytical results detected the keratin-based hair smoothing product solution contained 4.85% formaldehyde to OHSU CROET.
September 2010
  • September, 2010, according to OHSU CROET, they received a second sample of the same keratin-based hair smoothing product and forwarded it to Oregon-OSHA for analytical testing. Oregon-OSHA's report indicated this bottle was also labeled "formaldehyde-free." Oregon-OSHA reported analytical results, after using 4 separate test methods, revealed the sample contained between 6.3% - 10.6% formaldehyde.
October 2010
  • October, 2010, Oregon-OSHA reports analytical findings to news media.
  • Oregon-OSHA develops Local Emphasis Program (LEP) (PDF) that addresses potential hazards of occupational formaldehyde exposures among workers using hair smoothing/straightening products and product MSDS accuracy.
  • October 7, 2010, Health Canada releases a report saying it measured the product and found it contained 12% formaldehyde, which is 60 times their permissible limit for cosmetics. In response, the Brazilian Blowout company has had a class action lawsuit filed against them in Canada by citizens.
  • October 8, 2010, Attempting to answer questions about whether formaldehyde exists in the samples, Oregon-OSHA releases to the press a statement (PDF) informing that methylene glycol becomes formaldehyde gas. When formaldehyde is dissolved in water it forms methylene glycol. When methylene glycol is heated and turned into a gas, it becomes formaldehyde.
  • October 8, 2010, FDA issues a web page acknowledging they are looking into keratin-based hair smoothing products and providing information.
  • October 19, 2010, Ireland begins recalling certain keratin-based smoothing products.
  • Since September 1, 2010, the National Office, including OSHA's Hotline (1-800-321-OSHA), has received over 100 inquiries regarding keratin-based smoothing products and potential formaldehyde hazards and control measures. Many of the inquires can be sufficiently answered with the formaldehyde fact sheet (PDF*).
  • October 29, 2010, Oregon-OSHA issues a press release (PDF) and a Hazard Alert (PDF) on keratin-based smoothing products and their final report (PDF) on the product, concluding:
    • "Oregon OSHA and CROET have concluded that there are meaningful risks to salon workers when they are confronted with these hair smoothing products. Effective control of those risks depends upon accurate information regarding the potential hazards and the control measures available, which in turn begins with an accurate understanding of the ingredients and the potential harm they may cause. In conjunction with this report, Oregon OSHA is advising Oregon salons and stylists that hair smoothing treatments - particularly those generally referred to as "Keratin-based treatments" - should generally be treated as formaldehyde-containing products and the requirements of the OSHA Formaldehyde Standard must be followed when there are employees under the Oregon
    • Safe Employment Act (OSEA). Further, employers should be advised that any product that contains "methylene glycol" will continue to be treated as a formaldehyde-containing product under the OSEA."
November 2010
  • November 5, A class action lawsuit is filed against a manufacturer of a keratin-based smoothing product.
  • November 9, 2010 Connecticut Department of Public Health issues a warning (PDF) on keratin-based smoothing products.
  • November 11, 2010, The California Attorney General's Office filed a lawsuit against a manufacturer of a keratin-based hair smoothing product, claiming the manufacturer failed to warn consumers and salon workers that the product contained potentially harmful formaldehyde levels. Meanwhile, the manufacturer instituted legal proceedings against Oregon OSHA, stating the agency failed to distinguish between formaldehyde and methylene glycol in testing.
  • November 12, 2010 Oregon Health Licensing Agency issues OR-OSHA alert to Salons and stylists in Oregon.
  • November 15, 2010, a coalition of public health and safety nonprofits, including Women's Voice for the Earth, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics,and the National Healthy Nail and Beauty Salon Alliance, asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recall specific keratin-based smoothing products.
  • November 18, 2010, Cal/OSHA posted a safety update (PDF) on its website that explained formaldehyde exposures due to hair-smoothing treatments and the workplace precautions that can be taken to help reduce the adverse effects of hair-smoothing treatments containing formaldehyde.
December 2010
  • December 1, 2010, the U.S. FDA assured Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer that is actively investigating specific keratin-based hair smoothing products. The FDA stated that it is still gathering data and intends to study Oregon OSHA's data and testing.
  • December 2, 2010, A National Institute of Environmental Health and Safety researcher, Martyn Smith, issues a statement of concern for the press about concentrations of formaldehyde stylists are being exposed to of formaldehyde.
  • December 9, 2010, The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued a statement agreeing with OR-OSHA that the formaldehyde standard includes formaldehyde gas, its solutions, and materials that release formaldehyde.
  • December 10, 2010, Health Canada issued an advisory that extended its previous statement on formaldehyde by reporting that ten more keratin-based hair smoothing products were found to contain unacceptable amounts of formaldehyde.
  • December 14, 2010, OSHA Quick Takes "Oregon OSHA issues caution alert to salons using hair-smoothing products" (First Federal OSHA Acknowledgement)
  • December 17, 2010, the company that manufactures the keratin-based hair smoothing product named in a report filed a lawsuit against Oregon OSHA, demanding that the agency stop reporting false and misleading information as to the contents of its product. According to the company, Oregon OSHA reported that the product contains formaldehyde, when in fact, it contains methylene glycol.
  • December 30, 2010, Connecticut Department of Public Health expands their warning on keratin-based smoothing products.
January 2011
  • January 18, 2011, California Department of Public Health issues a Question and Answer document (PDF) on formaldehyde in keratin-based hair smoothing products.
February 2011
  • February 1, 2011, companies that marketed keratin-based hair straightening products have begun to shift to other names and chemicals. The safety of these new formulations is not known.
March 2011
  • On March 2, 2011, it was reported that the lawsuit filed against Oregon OSHA has been withdrawn.

*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 639-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 639-2300.

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