Licensee Fact Sheet 8

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Hair Bleaches

How can chemicals in hair bleaches get into your body?

Skin & Eye Contact

  • Some chemicals may harm your skin directly and/or be absorbed into your bloodstream.
  • You may splash chemicals into your eyes.
  • You may accidentally touch your eyes with chemicals on your hands.
  • Chemical vapors in the air may get into your eyes.

Breathing

  • You may breathe in chemical vapors through your nose or mouth.

Swallowing

  • Chemicals on your hands or in the air may contaminate your food or drink.

How can chemicals in hair bleaches affect your body?

Different chemicals affect your body in different ways, depending on the amount of the chemical in the product, how harmful it is, the length of time you are exposed, and other factors. Not every person has the same reaction to a chemical. Some people experience health effects when they work with a product, others never do. Health problems that may be caused by chemicals in shampoos and conditioners include:

Central nervous system effects: headache, dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, restlessness

Nose and throat irritation: runny nose, scratchy throat, burning, itching

Skin irritation and dermatitis: redness, itching, skin rash, or dry skin, which cracks and flakes - most common on the hands and arms

Eye irritation: redness, burning, watering, itching

Lung irritation: breathing difficulty, shortness of breath, coughing, swelling of lung tissue

Burns: chemicals in some hair bleaches can cause burns if they get on your skin or in your eyes

Allergies: stuffy or runny nose, sneezing, asthma, dermatitis. If you become sensitive to a particular chemical, you will have an allergic reaction every time you use it.

What harmful chemicals are sometimes found in hair bleaches?

WARNING! EXPOSURE TO THESE CHEMICALS MAY CAUSE:

  • Alcohol (ethyl or isopropyl): eye, nose, throat, and lung irritation. Central nervous system effects. Skin irritation and dermatitis.
  • Ammonium hydroxide: eye, nose, throat and lung irritation. Skin and eye burns. Skin irritation and dermatitis.
  • Ammonium persulfate or potassium persulfate: eye irritation. Skin irritation and dermatitis. Allergies, including asthma. Possible fire hazard.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: eye, nose, throat and lung irritation. Skin and eye burns. Severe irritation of mouth, throat and stomach if swallowed.
  • Sodium peroxide: eye and nose irritation. Skin and eye burns. Skin irritation and dermatitis.

Not all hair bleaches contain these chemicals, and some may contain harmful chemicals not listed above. Always check the productís Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for more information.

How can you protect yourself from chemical hazards?

When you work with chemicals in hair bleaches, it is important to take steps to protect your health.

Avoid harmful chemicals

  • For any product used, read the label and Safety Data Sheet to know what is in the product and its health effects.
  • Use products with the least hazardous chemicals in them when possible.

Use safe work practices

  • Store products with persulfates away from direct sunlight, heat or flames. They are flammable.
  • Keep containers closed when you're not using them so the product doesn't spill or get in to the air.
  • Check that all containers of chemicals are properly labeled of their contents.
  • Don't eat or drink in your work area as your food or drink may be contaminated by chemicals or chemical vapors.
  • Wash your hands after working with chemicals, even if you wore gloves.

Ventilate the room

  • Always work in a well-ventilated area. If there's no ventilation system, open windows and doors to bring in fresh air from outside.

Avoid harmful chemicals

  • Do hair lightening without boosters (ammonium persulfate or potassium persulfate).
  • Or use non-persulfate boosters like sodium perborate, sodium percarbonate, or magnesium carbonate.
  • For any product used, read the label and Safety Data Sheet to know what is in the product and its health effects.
  • Use products with the least hazardous chemicals in them when possible.

Use protective equipment

  • Wear gloves designed to protect your skin from the particular chemicals you're using.
  • Wear safety goggles when mixing chemicals to protect your eyes from splashes.

Know your rights as a worker

  • Employers must provide workers with Safety Data Sheets if requested.
  • Employers must train workers on the hazards of the chemicals they are working with and how to protect themselves from the hazards.

Report any health problems

  • Speak up if you are experiencing symptoms of health effects so your employer can help alleviate the problem and let other employees know.
  • Seek advice from your doctor on how serious your issues are and how they should be handled.
  • You have the right to report health hazards to Cal/OSHA by filing a complaint.
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