Hairstylists face a health risk at work. Italian researchers have found that hairdressers can develop occupational asthma and chronic runny nose from exposure to persulfate salts in hair bleach. In the study, 47 hairstylists with suspected occupational asthma underwent allergy tests, lung function tests, and a specific inhalation challenge. The participants had been exposed to persulfate salts in bleaching products for an average of 7 years.
Reporting in Chest (November 2005), the researchers discovered that 51% of the hairstylists were diagnosed with occupational asthma. Of those cases, 87.5% were attributed to exposure to persulfate salts.
The investigators also found that chronic runny nose was diagnosed in >54% of the participants, and nearly 85% of those cases were attributed to persulfate salts. The study noted that participants diagnosed with occupational asthma due to persulfate salts had been exposed to bleaching agents for an extended time period. There also was a long period between the start of exposure to bleaching agents and the initial signs of asthma.