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Hair Dye Exposure may lead to Increased Risk of Cancer for Hairdressers

June 10, 2014
Public Health

salonScientists are calling for more research into chemicals found in light colour permanent hair dyes after researchers at the University of Lund in Sweden discovered concentrations of the banned substance toluidine in blood samples taken from hairdressers. The study measured levels of eight carcinogenic substances in samples obtained from 295 female hairdressers. Toluidines are aromatic amine chemicals which were present in nearly 90% of commercial hair dyes in the 1970s but were phased out leading to a full European Union ban in the early 1990s.

Studies undertaken in the US and Turkey have however detected levels of aromatic amines in current products. Researchers feel that this could be due to impurities in the manufacturing process. The level of carcinogen present also appears to be related to the colour, with a recent study finding that concentrations of o-toluidine were particularly high in dark yellow and black dyes. The report also draws a link between blood levels and the number of exposures, stating, “Hairdressers who use light-coloured permanent hair dyes, other permanent hair dyes and hair waving treatments seem to be exposed to o- and m-toluidine, as indicated by associations with the number of treatments performed.”

The authors advise hairdressers to protect themselves by wearing protective gloves and urged them to perform work were gloves cannot be worn, such as cutting hair, before applying dye.

You can view the abstract to the study here