The FDA has sent a letter to the manufacturers of Brazilian Blowout, a hair-straightening and smoothing product, telling the company that its product poses a danger to salon workers and customers who use it. The FDA said that the product contains dangerous levels of toxic formaldehyde.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said last spring that the product was hazardous to workers and could potentially cause illness and injury. Now, the FDA says that the company must respond within 30 days or their products could be seized.

The FDA says the product contains between 8.7 percent and 10.4 percent formaldehyde, when the Cosmetics Ingredient Review Expert Panel says that to be safe products should only contain 0.2 percent or less of formaldehyde. The amount of formaldehyde allegedly in Brazilian Blowout is about the same as is used to embalm people in funeral homes. The FDA says that the Brazilian Blowout product is mislabeled because boxes say it is formaldehyde free or contains no formaldehyde.

The directions on the product boxes say that the product must be heated through use of a blow dryer and flat iron in order to work. That is where the problem comes in, however, because heating the solution causes the formaldehyde to be released into the air. The chemical is a known carcinogen. Salon workers and customers have reported symptoms of illness after using the product, including chest pains, eye and throat irritation, headaches, vomiting and rash, dizziness, respiratory issues and nosebleeds.

Source: TIME, “Brazilian Blowout Gets Blowback From the FDA,” Sora Song, Sept. 9, 2011