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Ban on Chemical Will Enhance LGBT+ Health


Live Science online magazine reports that the United States is to join the European Union in banning the chemical formaldehyde from hair straighteners.  There is anecdotal evidence that, alongside cisgender and heterosexual women of colour, so trans women and lesbian women of colour have used hair straighteners to conform to Eurocentric ideals of beauty which are still pervasive across many western cultures.  The new US ban on formaldehyde would help make hair-straightening and -smoothing products safer and, especially, make a difference to salon workers who are constantly exposed to the chemical.  The new FDA ban would apply to hair-straightening and -smoothing products, which temporarily straighten hair. Those products aren't to be confused with hair relaxers, which are creamy chemicals used to permanently straighten hair, Jasmine McDonald, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, told Live Science reporters. Hair relaxers typically do not contain formaldehyde, she noted.   Live Science says that women of colour will benefit from the ban of formaldehyde, which has been linked to  leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancers, which affect the upper part of the throat. It's thought to be cancer-causing when inhaled in large amounts or for prolonged periods. Formaldehyde has also been linked to breathing problems, including the onset and exacerbation of asthma in children and adults. In people who regularly work with formaldehyde, the chemical is thought to potentially increase the risk of fertility issues and miscarriage.  The magazine also noted that textured African hair is still discriminated against in US society, a fact that has prompted some more progressive legislatures in various states to pass anti-discrimination ordinances on hair texture.  There is less research on black gay men and their relationship to hair straighteners, as for many years gay male fashion for men of all colours has tended to emphasise short hair cuts such as a short back and sides, skinhead and crew cuts.  


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