Charges of the respiratory tract due to hazardous substances at haidressers' workplaces

Project No. BIA 3041


completed 12/1998


Employees in the hairdressing sector are exposed to a large variety of hazardous substances, what can lead to occupational diseases of the respiratory tract. Owing to the inadequate knowledge about harmful concentrations in the breathing air, the exposure of hairdressers can hardly be determined. This lack of knowledge can have several reasons: Constantly varying exposure conditions due to changing activities (wet/dry working) and different framework conditions (ventilation, temperature etc.); lack of adequate measuring methods for most of the substances. The project's aim was to work out the bases of exposure assessment on account of activity-related factors. The test results are to be part of a practical guide for hairdressers and shall help to decide on adequate measures for ventilation and protection.


It is not possible to obtain definite results as concerns activity- specific concentrations of exposure in hairdresser's shops because the working conditions do change permanently. For this reason the BIA fitted out a test room with a model workplace to do the tests under standardised conditions. Activities like bleaching, perming and dying the hair cause emission of hazardous substances. The BIA conducted measurements to determine the corresponding concentrations. In a first step, however, adequate measuring procedures had to be developed for some of these substances. The most important substances are hydrogen peroxide and peroxide sulphate, which occur during bleaching and which may cause diseases of the respiratory tract.


The dust release of bleaching powders containing ammonium peroxide sulphate can be reduced by using newly developed bleaching granulates or micro-incapsulated powder. This also reduces charges of the respiratory tract importantly. P- phenylenediamine and thioglycolate, the substances used for permanent waves and for hair dying could not be discovered in the breathing air. Hydrogen peroxide and ammonia do obviously meet the limit values under usual conditions for the above mentioned activities. Technical protection measures for the purpose of exposure reduction that exceed the requirements of the applying German guideline are not considered necessary.

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Financed by:
  • Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften (HVBG)
  • Berufsgenossenschaft für Gesundheitsdienst und Wohlfahrtspflege
Research institution(s):
  • Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitssicherheit- BIA


Type of hazard:

Arbeitsbedingte Erkrankungen, Gefahrstoffe, Arbeitsbedingte Gesundheitsgefahren


Allergisierende Stoffe, Chemische Arbeitsstoffe, Klein- und Mittelbetriebe

Description, key words:

hairdresser, hairdressing, charge of respiratory tract, model workplace