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Hairdressers may have been exposed to asbestos at work. In the 1970s and 1980s, many hair dryers contained asbestos parts. Asbestos fibers were often released into the air during use. As a result, hairdressers, salon personnel and customers may have been exposed to asbestos in hair dryers.


01. Asbestos Risk for Hairdressers

How Are Hairdressers Exposed to Asbestos?

Hairdressers and other cosmetology professionals may have been exposed to asbestos products in hair dryers. In the 1970s and early 1980s, commercial and home, handheld hair dryers contained asbestos.

Facts About Hairdressers
  • 302,410 hairdressers in the United States (2020)
  • Asbestos Exposure: Previous exposure risk
  • Asbestos-Related Disease Risk: Low
  • Similar Occupations: Cosmetologists, makeup artists

Many products contained asbestos. The material was commonly used for its natural heat resistance and chemical durability. As a result, professionals from many industries were exposed to asbestos, a dangerous carcinogen.

Asbestos exposure can cause several serious diseases. One of the most well-known is mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer.

Hair dryers often contained asbestos linings near the heating element. The mineral served as a heat shield. When turned on, the hair dryer could expel the fibers in the lining. This causes asbestos to become airborne.

In 1979, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted a study examining the asbestos levels in 30 different hair dryers. The research was conducted on behalf of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The study included several types of hair dryers, including:

  • Handheld hair dryers
  • Hood-style (bonnet-style) hair dryers
  • Heat guns
  • Heavy-duty commercial salon-style hair dryers

The study confirmed levels of asbestos over the Occupational Health and Safety Administration‘s (OSHA) permissible exposure limit were released. However, no level of asbestos exposure can be considered completely safe. Any level of asbestos exposure may lead to significant health issues, such as asbestosis or peritoneal mesothelioma.

“Mesothelioma can occur from brief exposures and at low doses. There is no evidence of a threshold level of asbestos exposure in which there is no risk of mesothelioma.”

What Asbestos Products Put Hairdressers at Risk?

In the 1970s and 1980s, the vast majority of hair dryers contained asbestos. According to OSHA data, 90% of hair dryer manufacturers used asbestos components during this time.

OSHA identified 11 major manufacturers who used asbestos in hair dryers and other salon equipment. During this time, these companies generated an estimated 90% of all hair dryer sales each year. As a result, millions of people were potentially exposed to asbestos generated by hair dryers.

Manufacturers of Asbestos Products Used by Hairdressers

  • Conair Corporation
  • General Electric Company
  • Gillette
  • J.C. Penney Company, Inc.
  • Korvettes
  • Montgomery Ward Inc.
  • Norelco (and its parent company, North American Philips Corporation)
  • Presto
  • Schick, Inc.
  • Scovill Manufacturing Company (under the brands Hamilton Beach and Dominion)
  • Sears, Roebuck and Co.
  • Sperry Rand Corp. (Remington)
  • Sunbeam

Hairdressers may have been exposed to asbestos from several models of hair dryers. The list below contains the specific asbestos-containing models produced by each manufacturer.

Models of Asbestos-Containing Hair Dryers by Manufacturer

Conair Corporation
  • Style Stream 070
  • Pistol Power 0991
  • Dial ‘N Dry 140V
  • Pro Style 065
  • Jr. Pro 066
  • Thermo Styler 067
Dominion Division of Scovill Manufacturing
  • 3806Y Portable Hair Dryer
  • 3806P Portable Hair Dryer
  • 1841 Comb & Dry Hair Dresser
  • 3840 1000-Watt Gun Type Hair Dryer
  • 3850 Comb & Dry Hair Brush
General Electric Company
  • Hand Held Pro Pistol (PRO-l/5105-013-Power Pro)
  • Pro Pistol (PRO-2/5108-005-Super Pro)
  • Pro Pistol (PRO-3/5107-01l-Pistol Pro)
  • Pro Pistol (PRO-4/5109-00l-Pro Dryer)
  • Pro Pistol (PRO-5/5110-013-Power Pro)
  • Pro Pistol (any PRO-6-Super Pro Dryer)
  • Pro Pistol (PRO-10/5115-013-Power Turbo)
  • Pro Pistol (**PRO-11/5116-005-Super Turbo)
  • Power Brush (PB-l/5113-005-Power Brush)
  • Styling Dryer (SD-112-Styling Dryer)
  • Styling Dryer (SD-4/5101-013-Styling Dryer)
  • Styling Comb (STC-l/lA-Styling Comb)
  • Styling Comb (STC-2-Mist Styling Comb)
The Gillette Company
  • Max THD-2
  • Max Plus THD-2A
  • Max for Men HD-3
  • Max HD-4
  • Supermax HD-5
  • Maxhatter AD-6
Hamilton Beach Division of Scovill Manufacturing
  • 458 Portable Hair Dryer With Mist Groomer Attachment
  • 422 Portable Version of 479
  • 423 Groomer III Englishtown
  • 480 Pro 1200-Watt Hair Dryer
  • 434B Female Groomer With Case
  • 433 Male Groomer With Case
  • 432 Hot Comb
  • 479 Deluxe Blower Styler
  • 425 Blower Styler
J.C. Penney Company, Inc.
  • 064-1050A 1000-Watt Pro Dryer
  • 064-1121 1000-Watt Rotary Styler Dryer
  • 064-1145 Watt Pro Dryer
  • 064-1146 1200-Watt Pro Dryer
  • 064-1180 1400-Watt Pro Dryer
  • 064-1190 1200-Watt Adjustable Pro Dryer
  • 064-1186 1200-Watt Pro Dryer
  • 1200 Adjustable Pro Dryer
  • 1210 Treasury Model
  • 1213 Thrift Model
Korvettes
  • HA 22M-1200-Watt Pro Dryer
  • HA 2214-1400 Watt
  • HA 1214-1400 Watt
  • Model 23A – 1000-Watt Curl Brush Dryer
  • Model 7047 – 1000-Watt Compact Hair Dryer
Montgomery Ward Inc.

Model numbers with the last five digits:

  • 19361 (all units)
  • 19363 (all units)
  • 19367 (some units)
  • 19368 (some units)
  • 19369 (all units)
  • 19373 (all units)
  • 19374 (all units)
  • 19375 (all units)
Norelco
  • HB 1700 (Black)
  • HP 2600 (Green)
  • HP 3600 (Tan)
  • HP 3601 (Tan)
North American Philips Corporation
  • HB-1700 Norelco 1000 (Black)
  • HB-2600 Styler Dryer (Green)
  • HB-3600 Styler Dryer (Tan)
  • HB-3601 Styler Dryer (Tan)
  • HC-1107 Hot Comb (Brown)
Schick, Inc.
  • PD-1001
  • PD-1001-A
  • PD-1201
Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Model numbers:

  • 253.6314
  • 253.6369
  • 253.6385
  • 253.8700
  • 253.8714
  • 253.8736
  • 253.8754
  • 253.8782
  • 253.8783
  • 253.6374
  • 253.6377
  • 253.8704
  • 320.6350
  • 320.8706
Sunbeam
  • Northern Model 1821 (700-Watt Professional Dryer)
  • Northern Model 320.6350 (700-Watt Professional Dryer)
  • Northern Model 320.8706 (700-Watt Professional Dryer)
  • Oster Model 202 Air Jet Hair Dryer
  • Oster 301 Styling Dryer
  • Oster 302 Blo-Wave Hair Dryer
  • Sunbeam D-CW Professionaire
  • 52-9C Professionaire
  • 52-9K Professionaire
  • 52-9H Professionaire
  • 52-9P Professionaire
  • 52-125 Professionaire
  • 52-9R Professionaire

Professional and hobbyist hairdressers may have experienced asbestos exposure from their hair dryers. As a result, they may be at risk of developing asbestos-related cancers.

Common Places Asbestos Is Found in the Hairdressing Industry

Hair dryers and heated styling tools were used in many settings. Potential asbestos exposure from these tools is not limited to salons.

Locations that often exposed hairdressers include:

  • Beauty product stores
  • Cosmetology schools
  • Homes, if doing house calls
  • Makeup studios
  • Salons

Asbestos can become particularly dangerous when present in a poorly ventilated space. This allows more fibers to become concentrated in the air. As a result, anyone nearby an asbestos hair dryer may have been exposed to the mineral.

Hairdressers and At-Risk Trades

Hairdressers are not the only individuals at risk of occupational asbestos exposure as a result of asbestos-filtered hair styling products. Other individuals around salons may also have been exposed. This could include other salon professionals or clients.

At-risk trades in the hairdressing industry include:

  • Barbers
  • Cosmetologists
  • Estheticians and skin care specialists
  • Hair stylists
  • Manicurists
  • Pedicurists

Secondary asbestos exposure may also occur due to the cosmetology industry. Hairdressers may accidentally bring home asbestos fibers from their workplace. Airborne fibers may settle on a hairdresser’s clothing, hair, skin or personal belongings. As a result, family members and loved ones may also develop related diseases.

Secondary Exposure Leads to Asbestos Lawsuit

Ardyce Riggs developed mesothelioma as a result of secondary asbestos exposure. She was exposed to fibers through her husband David, a hairdresser. Ardyce filed a lawsuit to gain compensation for her asbestos disease.

02. Mesothelioma Risk

Asbestos Exposure Risk for Hairdressers

Studies have confirmed asbestos levels released by hairdryers are above the permissible limit.

OSHA’s permissible exposure limit is only 0.1 fibers/cm3 over an eight-hour, time-weighted average. According to research, asbestos emissions from hair dryers can reach 0.11 structures/cm3.

As a result, hairdressers have an elevated risk of asbestos exposure when compared to the general public. Hairdressers’ occupational exposure can lead to several health issues, including asbestos lung cancer or mesothelioma cancer.

03. Asbestos Safety

Asbestos Safety for Hairdressers

Hazardous consumer products are regulated by the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. These regulations are administered and updated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

In 1979, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a report regarding asbestos in hair dryers. After the report, many manufacturers voluntarily stopped asbestos use. To make this standard practice, the CPSC issued a recall for all asbestos-containing hair dryers and salon accessories. These products may still have been in circulation through the early 1980s.

Today, the risk of asbestos exposure for hairdressers is low. Unless decades old, hair dryers are not likely to contain asbestos. However, asbestos diseases have a long latency period. It may take up to 50 years for diseases such as mesothelioma to develop.

As a result, hairdressers may continue to be diagnosed with asbestos diseases. Any individual who suspects they may have experienced asbestos exposure should contact a doctor.

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