FDA Proposes Banning A Dangerous Chemical In Hair Relaxers Due Potential Risks To Black Women

by Gee NY

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken a significant step by proposing a ban on Formaldehyde, a hazardous chemical used in hair relaxers, that straighten curly hair.

This move comes after Congresswomen Ayanna Pressley and Shontel Brown, both African American representatives, raised awareness of the potential risks associated with these products, believing it to be a life-saving endeavor.

In March 2023, U.S. Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Shontel Brown contacted the FDA to bring to their attention the presence of the carcinogen formaldehyde in many hair relaxers on the market. This communication, according to the Atlanta Black Star, followed the FDA’s 2022 website update, which highlighted the dangers of certain hair products and offered safety tips, emphasizing the importance of understanding potential risks before using hair dyes and relaxers.

A specific section on the FDA’s website, titled “Formaldehyde in Hair Smoothing Products: What You Should Know,” explained that formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen and can lead to both short- and long-term health effects. However, it was not previously on the list of banned substances.

In 2022, a Missouri woman named Jenny Mitchell initiated a lawsuit against L’Oréal USA and other hair straightener manufacturers. She alleged that their products, which she had used since she was 18, contributed to her uterine cancer diagnosis, eventually leading to a hysterectomy. Jenny’s case resulted in a mass tort lawsuit after she sought legal assistance from Ben Crump and Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann.

Congresswomen Pressley and Brown advocated for further action by the FDA on behalf of individuals like Mitchell. Their efforts led to a proposal to remove formaldehyde from these products.

Ayanna Pressley expressed her satisfaction with this step and underlined the significance of protecting the health of Black women, who are disproportionately at risk due to systemic racism and anti-Black hair sentiment. She commended the FDA for being responsive to her call for action and urged the prompt finalization of the rule.

Shontel Brown’s office also emphasized the importance of this proposal for Black women’s health and noted the FDA’s positive response to concerns about the safety of chemical relaxers. They highlighted the need to ensure the safety of products for American consumers.

As reported by ShineMyCrown last year, formaldehyde is not the only harmful chemical in Black women’s hair products. A recent study linked another carcinogen, paraben, found in straighteners, to an increase in cancer cells among Black women, further underscoring the need for improved safety regulations.

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