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Organizations Support CIR Review of Formaldehyde/Methylene Glycol Safety
Posted: May 20, 2011
The Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers & Distributors (ICMAD) has joined the Personal Care Products Council, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and consumer groups to support the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel's review for the use of formaldehyde/methylene glycol in professional hair straightening products.
The CIR Expert Panel initiated the review of the two ingredients after an Oregon OSHA laboratory followed up on a salon worker complaint that found 8–10% formaldehyde in a popular straightening treatment. Following this finding, the FDA requested that the CIR Expert Panel review the safety of formaldehyde in these treatments in addition to methylene glycol, which is now listed as a cosmetic ingredient.
Regarding the two ingredients, the CIR noted: Of special importance is the understanding that in an aqueous formulation, an equilibrium mixture of formaldehyde and methylene glycol will be present regardless of whether formaldehyde or methylene glycol is the added ingredient. Accordingly, these two ingredients are considered equivalent, and are referred to from here forth as formaldehyde equivalents.
The CIR Expert Panel report found that formaldehyde/methylene glycol are safe in cosmetic products at 0.2% or less. In addition, it noted that a safety conclusion cannot be made regarding formaldehyde/methylene glycol in cosmetic products intended to be aerosolized, or in which formaldehyde/methylene glycol vapor or gas will be produced under conditions of use. Also uncertain is the safety of formaldehyde/methylene glycol in nail care products, pending receipt of additional information clarifying the FDA's position on allowed levels of these ingredients in nail care products and nail salon exposure levels.
The CIR Expert Panel noted that hair straightening products containing these ingredients, when heated, can release low levels of formaldehyde gas. Formaldehyde and methylene glycol are sensitizing agents, and consumers or salon workers may experience allergic reactions if they become sensitized. Various studies also have indicated a link to cancer in humans when inhaled chronically over a long period of time.