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Your wig might be poisoning you: research finds pesticides and different poisonous chemical substances in artificial hair in Nigeria

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Properly-groomed hair is a logo of magnificence for a lot of black African girls. Pure hair requires particular care and a spotlight, although, which might be time consuming. Wigs (human or artificial hair), weave-ons and different synthetic hair extensions supply girls an alternative choice to their pure hair.

In Nigeria, these options are very fashionable with girls, each younger and previous. The artificial hair worth chain is a giant enterprise value hundreds of thousands of {dollars} and run by each native and international industries. Hairdressing salons flourish, offering styling and grooming providers for girls.

However we’ve discovered that there are contaminants hiding in artificial hair. Man-made fibres undergo varied chemical processes to make them appear and feel extra like human hair. The uncooked supplies used to make a few of the merchandise are poisonous. And the hair merchandise are primarily created from plastics which aren’t biodegradable, which is dangerous to the surroundings.

In our research in Nigeria, we investigated 10 artificial hair manufacturers generally worn by girls. Some had been made in Nigeria, others in China, Ghana and the USA. We discovered that each one of them had completely different ranges of contaminants akin to silver, cadmium, chromium, nickel, vanadium and lead, together with a number of pesticides that are hazardous to human well being.

Artificial hair is often worn near the scalp. Girls who put on it ought to pay attention to the potential hurt.

Regulators ought to make sure that producers of artificial hair cease utilizing plastic-based artificial merchandise and use pure plant fibres and protein blends as an alternative. These hair fibres are biodegradable and free from dangerous chemical substances.

Our research

We purchased 10 standard artificial hair manufacturers of varied colors (Catherine, Eye Sweet, Gold, Calypso, LVH, Dazzler, Mini Bob, Nectar, Diana and X-pression) from the Ariaria Worldwide market in Aba, in south-eastern Abia State.

The samples had been analysed in a laboratory.

Among the wigs studied.
Writer offered (no reuse)
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Writer offered (no reuse)

We used the US Commonplace Strategies for the Examination of Water and Wastewater to find out the presence of heavy metals (akin to cadmium, zinc, lead, chromium, manganese, iron, mercury, copper and nickel) within the artificial hair.

We discovered heavy metals in important quantities. One in every of them, lead, is utilized in stabilising the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that the artificial hair is manufactured from. Lead compounds (akin to fundamental lead carbonate, lead stearate and lead phthalate) stop warmth, gentle or put on and tear from breaking down the PVC, and make it simpler to kind into shapes.

Lead is harmful to people, nevertheless. It impacts the membranes, DNA, and antioxidant defence techniques of cells. Lead additionally interferes with the conventional improvement of a kid’s mind and nervous system.

The metals which might be used to stabilise the polymer aren’t sure to it. They’ll leach out over time or when uncovered to gentle. So, when girls put on artificial hair, whether or not as attachments, weave-ons or wigs, on their heads or as faux eyelashes, they danger publicity to steer and different heavy metals. That is the case for all artificial hair manufacturers created from plastics.

In people, publicity to heavy metals is related to varied organic dangers akin to harm to the kidneys, liver, lungs, reproductive system and nervous system. It has additionally been related to most cancers, pores and skin irritations, bronchial asthma and cardiovascular illnesses.

We discovered additionally that the artificial hair samples had been contaminated with 11 chemical compounds that are pesticides. The degrees of those chemical substances discovered within the hair exceeded permissible limits, making them harmful to well being.

Since they had been current in important quantities, we suspect they had been used as a type of preservative by the producers.

We additionally discovered excessive ranges of nitrate within the hair samples we studied. This has not been reported in earlier research on artificial hair. Publicity to excessive ranges of nitrate can result in illnesses akin to most cancers, enlargement of the thyroid gland and methemoglobinemia (a blood dysfunction).

Why this issues

Publicity to the poisonous chemical substances that we present in artificial hair can have severe well being penalties. Other than harm to important organs, they will trigger infertility, delivery defects, bronchial asthma, bronchitis and cancers. Additionally they result in consideration deficit hyperactivity dysfunction, endocrine system disruption and respiratory illnesses, amongst others.

Individuals who put on artificial hair ought to take into account these dangers, particularly as chemical substances and heavy metals might be dangerous even at low ranges.

Since Nigeria has giant artificial hair producers in Lagos, the Nationwide Company for Meals and Drug Administration and Management ought to continually evaluate and consider the protection of the chemical substances utilized in making these merchandise.

Artificial hair producers do produce other choices. They’ll use top quality artificial fibres akin to hiperlon as an alternative of plastic fibres. They need to use fibres which might be free from PVC and poisonous supplies, and go for environmentally pleasant ones.

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