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ACC Issues Position on the Formaldehyde Content of Some Popular Hair-Smoothing Products


Contact: Bryan Goodman, 202-249-6510
Email: bryan_goodman@americanchemistry.com

Recent news coverage has reported on professional-use, hair-smoothing products. In some cases, these news reports have discussed a product marketed as “formaldehyde-free,” and how to scientifically determine if products contain formaldehyde. Small amounts of formaldehyde are approved by the federal government for use in personal care products to prevent the growth of bacteria or as a preservative. In September, the Oregon Occupational Health and Safety Division (OSHA) released a study on a product marketed as “formaldehyde-free,” saying it contained high levels of formaldehyde. That Oregon study stated: “it is scientifically correct to measure formaldehyde content of a solution without excluding that portion of the formaldehyde that has reacted with the water to form methylene glycol.” The following statement on the issue from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) Formaldehyde Panel can be attributed to David Fischer, senior director in the Chemical Products and Technology Division:

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Dec. 9, 2010 – “The ACC Formaldehyde Panel strongly supports compliance with all government standards and, as needed, government testing of products. Formaldehyde content—in both gaseous and aqueous forms—should be accounted for when measuring the formaldehyde content of a product. Workers and consumers can effectively manage potential risks from formaldehyde in keratin-based, hair-smoothing products only if the product label and other product literature convey accurate ingredients and safety information.

“Federal OSHA correctly defines formaldehyde as ‘formaldehyde gas, its solutions, and materials that release formaldehyde.’ This comprehensive standard is the cornerstone for the protection of people who work with and around formaldehyde. It addresses hazard determination, hazard communications requirements, employee exposure monitoring, and employee health monitoring. Formaldehyde contributes to many products that improve everyday life, and the companies of the ACC Formaldehyde Panel take seriously their role as product stewards by working to communicate formaldehyde’s many safe uses.

“Consumers can find more information about the safety of products manufactured by the beauty and salon industry at the website of the Cosmetic Ingredient Review. Consumers experiencing adverse reactions to these products should contact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.”

Learn more: Position Statement of ACC's Formaldehyde Panel on the Formaldehyde Content of Certain Hair-Care Products

The Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), a national scientific organization that is sanctioned by the FDA to review and assess the safety of ingredients used in cosmetics, classifies formaldehyde in beauty products as ‘safe’ as long as the substance is no greater than 0.2 percent as free formaldehyde, kept to a minimum, and is not aerosolized. CIR’s standards should inform any effort to measure the safety of all hair products.

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