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Salon, Stylist Input Needed for Environmental Health Survey

Salon, Stylist Input Needed for Environmental Health Survey

Organization assessing salon product use and practices


MISSOULA, Mont. — A national nonprofit headquartered in Missoula is asking stylists and manicurists to share their salon practices and any health concerns they have about the chemicals used in salon products. Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) is surveying Missoula salons as part of a national program they run that aims to reduce salon workers exposure to harmful chemicals found in some salon products.

WVE will share the survey in a customized public presentation this fall in Missoula about how salons can reduce harmful exposures in the workplace, including what chemicals to watch out for when purchasing products. The survey, which is online here, asks questions related to toxic chemicals in salon products, ventilation systems, and energy efficiency.

WVE opted to assess Missoula salons because the organization is based here, and because it has a high concentration of the more than 1300 salons across the state of Montana. As in other states, the majority of the salon workforce in Montana is made up of women, with 62 percent of salons in the state are owned by women, much higher than the percentage of general small businesses.

Women in the salon profession are especially vulnerable to exposure to harmful chemicals because they may use products that contain toxins like formaldehyde or toluene on a daily basis, according to WVE’s research. Women are impacted differently by such exposures because they can be passed on to a developing fetus via the placenta or a child through breastfeeding. Women also tend to have more fat than men and many toxins tend to build up in fatty tissue.

“We think many salon workers aren’t aware of specific health risks associated with some of the products they come in contact with every day,” said Jamie McConnell, Director of Programs and Policy at WVE. “We respect that the products salons use is a matter of individual choice, and we want to make sure that choice is as informed as possible from both a worker and consumer standpoint.

“Ultimately, our goal is to make sure that every product manufactured and sold to salons is as healthy as possible,” she added. “Stylists shouldn’t have to worry about this and neither should their clients.”

A growing body of scientific evidence indicates there is reason for concern, showing hairdressers are at increased risk of cancers of the lung, larynx, bladder and multiple myeloma compared to the general population. One study has shown that nail salon workers have higher levels of di-n-butyl phthalate (DBP), a reproductive and developmental toxicant, than the general population. Another study found that beauticians and hairdressers are likely to have significant exposure to solvents that are linked to birth defects. Other studies have found cosmetologists are at a higher risk for having spontaneous abortions and low birth weight babies.

To reduce worker and clients’ exposure to harmful chemicals some cities in California have implemented green salon recognition programs. The programs are administered by the city and recognize nail salons that are using nail polishes free of toluene, dibutyl phthalate, and formaldehyde. WVE’s survey results will help to determine whether there is an interest in starting a similar program in Missoula.

WVE has focused on safer salons and cosmetics for more than ten years. The organization has published several reports and factsheets on salon worker health safety including Glossed Over; Toxic Chemicals in Salon Products: What Stylists Need to Know; and The Blowup on Brazilian Blowout.

Salons interested in completing the short survey should contact Jamie McConnell at (406) 543-3747 or fill it out online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/missoulasalonsurvey.

Founded in 1995, Women’s Voices for the Earth amplifies women’s voices to eliminate the toxic chemicals that harm our health and communities. With thousands of members across the United States, WVE changes corporate practices, holds government accountable, and works to ensure a toxic-free future for all. Learn more at www.womensvoices.org

Jamie McConnell, jamiem@womensvoices.org, (406) 543.3747, mobile
Caitlin Copple, caitlin.j.copple@gmail.com, (406) 493.4281, mobile




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