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Hair spray limits cause dustup in clean-air campaign


By Judy Fahys

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Mar 08 2013 08:02PM
Updated Mar 11, 2013 02:23PM

Up-dos that don’t. Flips that flop. Bouffants that buckle.

The Beehive State won’t be able to live up to its name, in Matt Tribe’s view, if the Utah Division of Air Quality follows through with plans to restrict polluting consumer products like hair spray.

"There’s going to be a lot of angry women," said Tribe, director of sales and marketing for Ogden Beauty Supply. "They’ll have to wear their hair down because it just won’t hold."

He’s been circulating his Stop the Hairspray Ban! flier to his customers and anyone else unaware that Hairpocalypse is on the horizon. Like anyone else in northern Utah, he’s concerned about Utah’s smog days, but he thinks regulators are wrong-headed to imagine a crackdown on hair spray and other low-fume products will fix it.

"We all know the real cause of air pollution is cars and factories and [limiting hair spray] is not going to do anything to help the problem."

Utah air-quality engineer Joel Karmazyn is identified in Tribe’s flier as "The Man Responsible for Wrecking Hairspray!!! He authored a proposal to limit the pollution-causing volatile organic compounds in hundreds of consumer products from window cleaners, to cooking sprays and wood polish, and he has been fielding angry calls from people who mistakenly believe hair spray is being outlawed.

"There is no ban," he noted. "It’s a reformulation."

Currently, hair spray with 80 percent VOC’s is permitted in Utah. When the regulation becomes effective in August, the limit will be 55 percent, and that will be what suppliers are allowed to offer in Utah stores.

Similar low-fume products are already sold in 38 states. In California, the limits have been in place since 1999 and salons have been fined for failing to comply.

And, while he agrees with Tribe that low-fume hair spray won’t single-handedly solve the Wasatch Front’s air-pollution woes, Karmazyn points out that the regulation, which applies to all kinds of consumer products, is expected to cut the smog-making pollutants by about 4,000 tons a year.

It’s one of nearly two dozen regulations that, together, are considered crucial to the state’s ability to meet federal pollution standards.

"It has to be a collective effort," Karmazyn said. "We have to look at the entire inventory [of pollution sources] and we have to cut [emissions]. It’s not a new idea. It’s new to Utah."

Annette Wassom, of Fairytale Hair and Makeup in Provo, is one stylist not worried about the change. She already uses environmentally friendly products, even for high-glamour styles.

"There are hair sprays," she said, "that hold without chemicals."

But Taylorsville stylist Judy Milano is outraged.

"We need hair spray," she said, mentioning poofy prom looks and other fancy dos. "Any salon is going to tell you, you can’t do without hair spray. You are messing with a lot of people’s livelihood, with my livelihood."

Besides, she said: "There is not enough hair spray in the world to do that much harm" to the environment.

fahys@sltrib.com

Twitter: @judyfutah

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