Hairdressers remain at risk to aromatic amines in hair products

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  • Published: Jun 11, 2014
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: Atomic / UV/Vis Spectroscopy / X-ray Spectrometry / NMR Knowledge Base / MRI Spectroscopy / Infrared Spectroscopy / Base Peak / Raman / Chemometrics & Informatics / Proteomics

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Hairdressing. It’s an occupation associated with beauty but its practitioners have to put up with some ugly contacts. I’m not talking about their clients but the products that they are obliged to use on the hair, in particular dyes and waving products. Some of these contain chemicals that have been linked to bladder cancer, namely aromatic amines like toluidines and alkylanilines.

The EC has banned toluidines and related compounds from cosmetics but a team of scientists in Sweden has found that hairdressers are still being exposed to carcinogenic aromatic amines. Writing in an open-access report in Occupational & Environmental Medicine, they explained how they found that the blood of hairdressers contained evidence of exposure. A GC/MS analysis revealed that four carcinogens and potential carcinogens had formed adducts with haemoglobin, a good target for study since its lifespan is about 120 days.

When the levels of adducts were compared with those of hairdressing customers and controls, there was no statistical difference. However, the levels of two compounds o-toluidine and m-toluidine, increased markedly with the number of dyeing and waving treatments given by each hairdresser. o-Toluidine is a Group 1 human carcinogen according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer and m-toluidine has not yet been classified but remains under suspicion. Adducts of two other potential carcinogens, p-toluidine and 2,3-dimethylaniline were also detected.

The presence of these adducts is clear. What remains less clear is their source. This should be the next stage. "A study measuring both exposure to aromatic amines and product analysis for the same amines would strengthen the conclusions about hairdressers' exposure to carcinogenic aromatic amines, and is encouraged," say the research team.

The current researchers did analyse one hair-waving product consisting of three different solutions, all of which contained a number of ingredients of unknown concentration. Both o- and m-toluidine were detected in the fixative and fixative/perming lotion solutions.

For now, while hair products wait to be investigated further, the team recommended using protective gloves whenever possible to restrict exposure.

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