Chemicals: Human and planetary health



The industry term for things like hair dye, acetone, bleach and straightening solutions is “chemicals” and rightly so. These substances contain a cornucopia of chemicals, some of them more toxic or reactive than others. It is not a bad idea to get to know some of the components of chemicals as they can impact on the health of both people and our planet.


Start with people. Exposure to certain chemicals can cause respiratory and dermal symptoms. P-phenylenediamine in hair dyes, for example, can cause skin irritation or dermatitis with repetitive exposure. Ammonium persulfate in hair bleach can cause eye, skin and nose irritation as well as coughing and shortness of breath. Longer term exposure can result in asthma. In these instances both staff and clients are susceptible.


Read our article, How to become a chemicals-wise salon, to learn more about how to keep safe from the harmful effects of chemicals.


The problem with putting chemicals down the drain is that they will enter your local waste water system. Local treatment systems are equipped to filter out standard hazards and pollutants but not always when they are in higher concentrations. Chemicals such as those handled in your salon may cause undue water pollution.


Chemicals can be incredibly taxing to landfill sites. To read more about the burden of non-recyclable waste on landfill read our article by clicking here. The advantage of burying chemicals with other waste is that (most) landfill sites are designed to contain leachate, or contaminated water, so they cannot escape and pollute nearby land or water.


Our planet already has a very limited reserve of readily-available fresh water. Our communities are tasked with ensuring we maintain that minimal supply and keep it clean enough for future use. It would fly in the face of reason to unnecessarily sully this precious reservoir on which all life depends.


Green Salon Collective has compiled a number of solutions to help your salon minimise its chemical waste and we also offer some services to help you with responsible disposal. Read our articles:



This article was written for Green Salon Collective by MeetthefiveRs



References and further reading:


Green Salon Collective’s article, Waste to energy


Womansvoices.org article, Toxic chemicals in salon products: What salon workers need to know


Simply Organic Beauty’s video, 5 harmful chemicals to avoid in hair salons


The Guardian’s article, Hairdressers of the world unite against hidden dangers of the salon


Journal of Cosmetic Science article, Comparison of damage to human hair fibers caused by monoethanolamine- and ammonia-based hair colorants


Cover photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash