EWG puts pressure on FDA with hair care lawsuit

EWG puts pressure on FDA with hair care lawsuit

This week the Environmental Working Group along with Women’s Voices for the Earth filed suit in the US District Court for the District of Columbia in an effort to motivate the FDA to take action regarding professional keratin hair products.

At issue, are health problems that arise from exposure to formaldehyde. Professional hair straightening / keratin treatments “often known by the popular brand name Brazilian Blowout – involve liquids applied to hair in the salon, which are then heated using blow dryers and straightening irons. The high temperatures of these hair styling tools cause the release of formaldehyde from the liquids into the air,” according to an EWG press release about the lawsuit.

A long time in the works

The non-profit research and public interest group has been vocal about this topic for years and petitioned the FDA to investigate the health risks consumers and salon professionals face from using the straightening products.

“For years stylists have reported that the application of these hair treatments caused difficulty breathing, eye irritation and nosebleeds,” Tina Sigurdson, EWG assistant general counsel, tells the press. “The FDA has been aware of the health hazards associated with the products since at least 2008. Despite these dangers, the FDA has yet to take action to remove them from the market.”

Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research for Women’s Voices for the Earth, echoes this concern: “The health risks posed by these products deserved immediate action from the FDA when it was brought to their attention in 2008.”

Scranton adds, “allowing salon workers and their customers to continue to be harmed by these products for over six years is unconscionable.”

Next steps

The EWG’s objective is to encourage the FDA to investigate the products in question and take action to ensure that consumers and salon pros aren’t at risk.

The group points out that both California and Oregon have taken “products with dangerous levels of formaldehyde [off] the shelves.” In the Americas region, more broadly, Canada has done the same thing.

What the FDA’s next move will be remains to be seen. In the meantime, Beth Greenfield, Senior Writer for Yahoo Beauty reached out to Theresa Eisenman, spokesperson for the FDA, who remarked only that, “We are unable to comment on pending litigation.”

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