How can we protect ourselves from infection and disease if we use everyday products without knowing what goes into them? Consumers regularly purchase and use products made and distributed by various industries without being told of sometimes toxic ingredients. For example, scores of customers worldwide have been exposed to toxic hair straightening products that use an ingredient 50 times more powerful than the safe dosage of formaldehyde – a chemical known to cause cancer.
Haircare Australia, a company that caters to a market of more than 5500 hairdressers across Australia, has recalled 158 bottles of ”Brazilian Blowout” after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission discovered its high formaldehyde content. The product, Global Keratin Hair Taming System, is one of seven products recalled by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission in the past two years because it contained too much of the toxin.
As fears grow over health risks of this hair treatment, one reported adverse case involves Helen Brown. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in March, over a year after having her hair straightened with this now recalled product.
Formaldehyde is a colorless, flammable, strong-smelling chemical that is used in building materials and to produce many household products. In 1980, a study showed that exposure to this chemical could cause nasal cancer in rats. Specialists have urged the human population to limit exposure to formaldehyde in homes by ensuring adequate ventilation, moderate temperatures, and reduced humidity levels through the use of air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
While proper labeling, recalls and regulations are important for safety, manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure only safe products reach the marketplace, avoiding the potential to cause catastrophic injury, including toxic chemical exposure. The millions of potentially dangerous products flooding retail store shelves before their hazards are identified highlight the inadequacy of current safety protocols. The burden must remain with manufacturers and retailers to identify hazards before their products enter the channels of commerce.