Airborne Hair Care Products Raise Concern

The average morning routine for many Americans includes inhaling several milligrams of chemicals that may be harmful to their health, Purdue University researchers have found. 

In a newly published paper in Environmental Science & Technology, a journal of the American Chemical Society, Nusrat Jung, an assistant professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering, discovered that several chemicals, particularly cyclic volatile methyl siloxanes, which are ubiquitous in hair care products, linger in the air after use. On average, Jung’s team reports, a person can inhale a cumulative mass of 1-17 milligrams of potentially harmful chemicals in a single hair-care session in their home. 

“We found the results to be extremely alarming,” Jung said. “We did not expect to see such significant emissions of volatile chemical mixtures from off-the-shelf hair-care products during typical hair-care routines that many people perform each and every day.” 

Most often, the greatest and most concerning chemical inhales is what’s referred to as D5 siloxane, which is one of the most abundant ingredients found in many hair-care products. It is believed that D5 siloxane can negatively affect the respiratory tract, liver, and nervous systems, though the extent of the threat it poses when ingesting it is not yet fully known. Adding heat to the chemical—such as using curling irons or straightening tools—has also shown to release it into the air in greater quantities, increasing the likelihood and amount inhaled. 

Read more on the Lyles School of Civil Engineering website.   


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