The following is an incomplete list of hair sprays which contained vinyl chloride at one time:
Sybil-Ives Dress & Glow
Body & Sheen
Vinyl Chloride in Hair Spray
Vinyl chloride exposure is universally recognized as a cause of angiosarcoma of the liver, a rare form of cancer. The public first learned of the connection between vinyl chloride and angiosarcoma in January, 1974, after several cases of this cancer where discovered among workers in chemical plants which polymerized vinyl chloride into polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The chemical industry was aware of the potential carcinogenicity of vinyl chloride by 1970, but continued to sell vinyl chloride for use as a propellant in aerosol sprays until mid-1973.
Beginning in the early 1960's, Allied Chemical (now Honeywell) and Union Carbide (now owned by Dow Chemical) promoted vinyl chloride as an aerosol propellant. Since it cost less than other propellants, certain hair spray manufacturers, including Clairol and Faberge, used vinyl chloride in some of their hair sprays.
At room temperature, vinyl chloride is a gas. As such, vinyl chloride should never have been used in a consumer aerosol product which was intended to be sprayed into the user’s breathing zone. None of these companies ever conducted any studies to determine the potential effects of repeated exposure to high doses of vinyl chloride that a consumer would receive in the confined area of a bathroom during years of use of the product. Rather, these companies simply looked at studies of vinyl chloride’s immediate toxic effects, and concluded that the material would be safe for consumer use.
To compound their negligence, none of these companies conducted a recall in 1974 or at any later time to retrieve the cans of the carcinogenic hair spray from consumers. No concerted effort was made by these companies or by the responsible federal agencies, including the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) to advise consumers to dispose of or return their cans of the carcinogenic hair spray. None of the hair spray manufacturers ever issued a warning to their customers that their health had been placed at risk. Instead, consumer exposure needlessly continued through 1974, and possibly into later years until the products were consumed.
The damage was done. The latency period for the development of angiosarcoma of the liver after exposure to vinyl chloride can be as long as 52 years. Angiosarcoma of the liver has now been diagnosed in hair dressers, barbers, and in consumers who used hair spray in significant amounts in 1974 and earlier years. The survival of patients with angiosarcoma of the liver is very poor. In one study, the median survival after diagnosis was 6 months without treatment, and with treatment, only 3% of patients were reported to live longer than 2 years.