Nigeria’s National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned against the use of hair smoothing products containing formaldehyde.

According to the agency, the United States Food and Drug Administration has informed it of the short and long-term effects of formaldehyde exposure in hair smoothing products.

The warning, contained in alert ‘No: 006/2021 – Formaldehyde in Hair Smoothing Products,’ signed by the Director-General of the agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, and issued to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday, said most hair smoothing or straightening products release formaldehyde gas, a known human carcinogen, as classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, into the air during hair straightening or smoothing.

According to the alert, when formaldehyde is released into the air and is present in the air at level exceeding 0.1 ppm, it can cause serious irritation of the eyes, nose and lungs.

“It can also cause skin sensitivity or allergic dermatitis,” it read.

The alert outlined some recommendations for people not to use hair products by themselves at home, except they visited a licensed hair professional in a salon.

It said hair professionals should be trained to take precautions, such as wearing gloves and safety glasses as well as ensuring proper ventilation when applying hair smoothing products.

According to the statement, hair professionals must read through the list of components, adding that the U.S Food and Drug Administration discourages individuals from buying hair smoothing products for home use.

“If you are obtaining from a retailer or purchasing online to utilise, read the required list of ingredients. If there isn’t one, don’t buy the product.

“If the hair smoothing product lists one of these ingredient names on the packaging: formaldehyde, formalin, or methylene glycol, then it means the product contains formaldehyde or will release formaldehyde.

“Be aware that not all hair smoothing products contain formaldehyde, which is why you need to read the label to see what is in the product,” the alert urges.

It advised anyone with a bad experience of hair smoothing solution to stop the usage of the product or service and report the reactions to healthcare provider.

It encouraged consumers, hair and health professionals to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of these smoothing products to the nearest NAFDAC office.