Measurement of endocrine disrupting and asthma-associated chemicals in hair products used by Black women

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Abstract

Background

Personal care products are a source of exposure to endocrine disrupting and asthma-associated chemicals. Because use of hair products differs by race/ethnicity, these products may contribute to exposure and disease disparities.

Objective

This preliminary study investigates the endocrine disrupting and asthma-associated chemical content of hair products used by U.S. Black women.

Methods

We used gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to test 18 hair products in 6 categories used by Black women: hot oil treatment, anti-frizz/polish, leave-in conditioner, root stimulator, hair lotion, and relaxer. We tested for 66 chemicals belonging to 10 chemical classes: ultraviolet (UV) filters, cyclosiloxanes, glycol ethers, fragrances, alkylphenols, ethanolamines, antimicrobials, bisphenol A, phthalates, and parabens.

Results

The hair products tested contained 45 endocrine disrupting or asthma-associated chemicals, including every targeted chemical class. We found cyclosiloxanes, parabens, and the fragrance marker diethyl phthalate (DEP) at the highest levels, and DEP most frequently. Root stimulators, hair lotions, and relaxers frequently contained nonylphenols, parabens, and fragrances; anti-frizz products contained cyclosiloxanes. Hair relaxers for children contained five chemicals regulated by California's Proposition 65 or prohibited by EU cosmetics regulation. Targeted chemicals were generally not listed on the product label.

Conclusions

Hair products used by Black women and children contained multiple chemicals associated with endocrine disruption and asthma. The prevalence of parabens and DEP is consistent with higher levels of these compounds in biomonitoring samples from Black women compared with White women. These results indicate the need for more information about the contribution of consumer products to exposure disparities. A precautionary approach would reduce the use of endocrine disrupting chemicals in personal care products and improve labeling so women can select products consistent with their values.

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