Are keratin treatments safe? What's all the controversy about? Keratin hair treatments are controversial because some contain/contained formaldehyde, or more correctly, a chemical called formalin (or methylene glycol) that "when heated to 450 degrees can turn back into formaldehyde," Schoon says. Formaldehyde is on the Department of Health and Human Services' "Reasonably Anticipated to Be Human Carcinogens" list, and has been linked to certain cancers like leukemia. But Schoon explains that the levels of formaldehyde found in these treatments are safe according to OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) especially when proper protection and ventilation are used, and this is in regards to the stylists who do many of these treatments weekly. He believes that "in the course of getting their hair done [clients] will never exceed the [safe] limit" of formaldehyde exposure. And that the "only risk is if [clients] have an allergy." So unless you have an allergy to formaldehyde or other aldehydes -- many products on the market use alternatives to formalin that fall in the aldehyde family -- Schoon believes you "have no risk" of being harmed by these treatments. And if the salon you go to has special "source capture" ventilation you won't even experience watery eyes or an irritated throat -- common temporary irritations associated with the treatments.
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