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What’s In That Laser Hair Removal Plume?

Laser hair removal (and other surgical treatments that use thermal energy) releases an aerosolized byproduct known as a “surgical plume.” When examined closely following other laser procedures, this plume has been found to contain chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen cyanide, and organic aerosolized particles such as cellular clumps, bacteria, and DNA of viruses. Laser hair removal (LHR) produces combustion of hairs, with an associated odor and a visible plume that often lingers in the treatment room. Unlike other laser treatments, there have been no studies done to determine what is in the aerosolized chemical compounds and ultrafine particles (UFPs) produced during LHR.

A recent study sought to qualitatively and quantitatively analyze the aerosolized content produced by LHR. Simulated LHR was performed using discarded terminal hairs from adult volunteers in typical locations: axillae, back, and arms. This study used gas chromatography–mass spectrometry to identify 62 organic compounds, of which 13 are suspected or known carcinogens and more than 20 are recognized irritants and toxins, contained in the plume. The study then quantified the environmental toxins.

The results showed that while levels of toxins, such as carbon monoxide and benzene were below the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)–permissible limits, when adjusted with an estimated 8-hour daily production of plume, certain toxin concentrations exceeded the limits. The authors note that laser hair procedures are often carried out in spas by aestheticians and the treatment rooms may lack proper ventilation to prevent exposure. There is no regulatory minimum requirement for air ventilation during a laser treatment other than those required by local building codes. The authors conclude that the plume produced during LHR contains potentially hazardous organic compounds and UFPs in quantities that may cause health problems ranging from airway irritation to cancers over time. They suggest that, at a minimum, an effective local exhaust system equipped with chemical extraction and particulate capture be used by practitioners who regularly perform LHR.

 

Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C

Posted: August 1, 2016

Source: JAMA Dermatology
Adapted from the original article.

[Image: Pixabay / Maxknoxvill]




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