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Document of the Week
March 30, 2001

Working in a beauty parlor is not normally considered a dangerous occupation. When beauticians and barbers think of environmentally hazardous jobs, coal miners and refinery workers probably top the list. What most beauty salon workers (and their patrons) don't know is that aerosol hair sprays are chemical cocktails of solvents, glues, polymers and propellants, many of them toxic. Until it was banned in 1974, the chemical industry's aerosol propellant of choice was vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), a potent carcinogenic gas that caused cancer in an untold number of factory workers.

In today's document of the day read, in their own words, why the companies that produced vinyl chloride as an aerosol propellant failed to inform the public about the dangers of using hairspray.

"The limited commercial value of the aerosol propellant market, in contrast with the unlimited potential for product liability claims, was stressed as a justification for serious consideration by the manufacturers of withdrawing from the market. All recognized that an insistent discouragement of the use of vinyl chloride as a propellant might focus undue and premature attention on the industrial hygiene aspects of the problem."

- MCA Vinyl Chloride Research Coordinators, January 30, 1973

last updated: may.1.2001

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