These recommended control measures include a “Three Zone Protection” approach to salon ventilation
Your Breathing Zone
1. Source capture ventilation is to protect both the stylist’s and client’s breathing zone and prevent overexposure to excessive levels of formaldehyde.
The easiest and most efficient way to prevent vapors and dust from getting into the salon is to provide the hair stylist with a source capture ventilation system. A source capture system protects the “breathing zone” of the stylist — the two-foot radius in front of the mouth. Every breath we take comes from the breathing zone. It is important to keep that area clean. And, if that area is clean — if the vapors and dust are captured immediately — then they don’t become inhaled or make it past the work station and into the salon. If anything does get past the source capture system, it would be adsorbed by the whole-salon unit (salon room air purifier).
Source capture systems intake the chemical vapors that are created when stylists apply chemical treatments to the hair, during blow drying, and flat ironing. Then they adsorb and contain the vapors. As with the larger, whole-salon ventilator (room air purifier), the adsorbent material needs to be changed regularly as it becomes saturated with salon chemicals.
While source capture systems are all meant to accomplish the same thing, the quality of them dramatically differs. “These are not magic boxes,” says Doug Schoon of Schoon Scientific Regulatory Consulting LLC. He recommends stylists choose a unit with a four inch bed of absorbent material that the air has to pass through. “It needs to be a hefty, thick bed,” says Schoon.
Together, “source capture” and salon air purification systems minimize what becomes part of the air. Stylists benefit in two ways: First, they will breathe clean air — which makes for happier lungs while helping to eliminate sensory irritation (burning eyes, scratchy throat, runny nose, headaches). Second, they will never have to be concerned about the smell of the salon.
2. Room air purification to cleanse the work station air and further reduce the potential of overexposure to formaldehyde or other salon vapors and dusts found in the salon.
All salon chemical vapors including formaldehyde are heavier than air and tend to migrate to the floor. It is important to choose a unit which the not only contains sufficient amount of adsorbent material, (i.e. 8 lbs activated carbon), but also moves a sufficient volume of air, (400 to 600 cubic ft. per minute). A unit which provides a “Fountain Flow” of air by forcing clean air towards the ceiling will create the necessary airflow pattern to scrub contaminants from the salon air. Because salon vapors are in greatest concentrations at floor level, choose a unit designed to capture pollutants at the floor level.
3. HVAC filters designed specifically to remove formaldehyde and other salon vapors and dusts from the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.
A building’s ventilation system, whether in a strip mall or a stand-alone structure, is called the HVAC system. This stands for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning. This is your first line of attack. The HVAC system brings fresh air to the salon and pushes it from one room to another. This system needs to be professionally maintained by a specialist. The specialist will change the filters, and properly balance and clean the system every year. An HVAC system removes mold, mildew, dust, etc., providing relatively fresh air to a building.
Most salons are only using residential, standard HVAC fiberglass filters, which are inadequate for the removal of salon specific chemical vapors and dust. Special Salon HVAC filters are available which have an increased dust holding capacity and are composed of rinse-able layers of electrostatic polypropylene grids that collect and trap dust. Designed specifically for salons these filters are composed of an interchangeable activated carbon panels which captures and removes salon specific chemical vapors.
Source capture ventilation, room air purifiers and HVAC filters designed specifically for removing salon vapors, mists and dusts have been developed and are highly effective for improving salon air quality. This has been an often overlooked tool that all salons need in order to protect workers and clients.
Salons must begin to consider ventilation as an important tool. You can’t cut hair without shears; and you can’t have a safe salon environment without proper and effective ventilation.