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Urgent action needed on hair dye chemicals

9 May 2008

Urgent action needed on hair dye chemicals

The Green Party is calling for ERMA to move quickly to remove over 100 ingredients that may be used in hair dyes that are banned in Europe, and to require warnings if a product contains p-phenylenediamine (PPD).

"The chemical PPD is classified as an extreme skin-sensitiser in Europe, and New Zealand consumers have a right to know that using it regularly could provoke allergic reactions", Green Party MP Ms Kedgley says.

Ms Kedgley's comments follow revelations that increasing numbers of women are experiencing severe allergic reactions to PPD and other chemicals in hair dyes.

"An estimated 70 percent of women and 20 percent of men use hair dyes, and most are completely ignorant of the potential risks and adverse reactions.

"Does someone actually have to die before ERMA acts to protect the health of the many New Zealanders who colour their hair? The lack of controls on many of these dyes, or information about their potential effects, is a tragedy waiting to happen".

Ms Kedgley says the Ministry of Consumer Affairs should also have a role in warning consumers about the risks associated with some hair dyes, and in providing consumer protection.

"One of the problems is that people can use hair dye apparently safely for many years, before having a sudden allergic reaction to it. One of my friends almost died from an anaphylactic reaction to a hair dye she had used for many years.

"The toxins slowly build up in your body, but it's not until you cross an unspecified threshold that you run the risk of a reaction which, as has been reported, can be very severe indeed."

Ms Kedgley says ERMA is investigating hair dyes but it could be several more years, at the rate their inquiry is proceeding, before any action is taken.

"We need to ban hazardous chemicals now and put strict controls on other ingredients used in hair dyes, particularly ingredients that are skin sensitisers. We need mandatory labelling of ingredients in cosmetics."

"I am concerned that there is no requirement in New Zealand for manufacturers to declare quantities of chemicals they have in a particular product, and this needs to change. With so many hair dyes being sold over the counter in New Zealand, we need monitoring of types and quantities of chemicals in these products."


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