While the issue is being sorted out, clients and stylists should know the symptoms and risks. Michael J. DiBartolomeis, head of the California Department of Public Health's Safe Cosmetics Program, says short-term symptoms from breathing formaldehyde vapors include headache; watering, burning, irritated eyes; a severely irritated inner lining of the nose or a bloody nose; and restricted breathing, similar to an asthmatic attack. Longer-term exposure can cause reduced pulmonary function or lung damage and raises the risk of cancer.
If you have symptoms, consult a physician immediately, DiBartolomeis says. You should also report your concerns to Cal/OSHA if you are an employee or to the California Safe Cosmetics Program.