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Your Wig Could Be Poisoning You As Study Finds Pesticides, Other Toxic Chemicals in Synthetic Hair in Nigeria
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Your Wig Could Be Poisoning You As Study Finds Pesticides, Other Toxic Chemicals in Synthetic Hair in Nigeria

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In Africa, a well-groomed hair is a symbol of beauty for many black women. But natural hair requires special care and attention, which can be time-consuming. As an alternative, wigs (both human and synthetic hair), weave-ons, and other artificial hair extensions have become increasingly popular among women in Nigeria. However, a recent study reveals a hidden danger lurking in synthetic hair products.

The Synthetic Hair Value Chain

The artificial hair industry is a lucrative business, worth millions of dollars and operated by both local and foreign industries.

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Hairdressing salons thrive, offering styling and grooming services to women seeking alternatives to their natural hair. But beneath the glossy appearance of synthetic wigs lies a concerning reality.

Contaminants in Synthetic Hair

In an investigation, Nwanne Dike Ijere, PhD researcher at the Federal University of Technology Owerri, ran a test on ten commonly worn synthetic hair brands in Nigeria (including Catherine, Eye Candy, Gold, Calypso, LVH, Dazzler, Mini Bob, Nectar, Diana, and X-pression), and alarming levels of contaminants were discovered.

The samples were said to have been analysed in a laboratory.

These contaminants include:

  1. Heavy Metals: Our analysis revealed significant amounts of heavy metals such as silver, cadmium, chromium, nickel, vanadium, and lead. Lead, in particular, is used in stabilizing the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that synthetic hair is made of. While it enhances the hair’s shape and durability, lead poses serious health risks to humans.
  2. Pesticides: Several artificial hair brands contained hazardous pesticides. Exposure to these chemicals can lead to infertility, birth defects, asthma, bronchitis, cancers, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), endocrine system disruption, and respiratory diseases.
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The Health Implications

Wearing synthetic hair close to the scalp increases the risk of exposure to these toxic substances. The consequences are dire, affecting vital organs and overall well-being. As consumers, we must be aware of these potential harms.

Recommendations

The researcher made some recommendations:

  1. Regulation: Authorities should ensure that manufacturers of synthetic hair products transition away from plastic-based materials. Instead, they should use natural plant fibers and protein blends that are biodegradable and free from harmful chemicals.
  2. Consumer Awareness: Women who wear synthetic wigs should educate themselves about the risks and consider safer alternatives.
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In conclusion, while synthetic hair offers convenience and style, it’s essential to prioritize health and make informed choices. Let’s advocate for safer practices in the hair industry to protect ourselves and our environment.

Check back for our article on safer alternatives to artificial or synthetic hair products.

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Comrade James Ezema is a veteran journalist and media consultant. He is a political strategist. He can be reached on +2348035823617 via call or WhatsApp.

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