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Aerosol Hairspray Burns

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Areas of Expertise

Michael Fox, PhD.



Aerosol Hairspray Burns - Arizona

A woman had sprayed her hair early in the morning with a hair spray product consisting mostly of mineral oils. 
The instructions on the container were to leave the product on the hair (soak) for a period of time (30 minutes).
 The woman gathered her children, put them in her car, and then drove them to day care.

Burning behavior of hair with & without hairspray product applied. Chemaxx graph
Burning behavior of hair with & without
hairspray product applied.
 When she got out of the car at the day care center, she lit a cigarette and her hair burst into flames. 

Experiments showed (see Figure) that hair burns at a faster rate and higher temperature when the hairspray product is applied. The issues in the case involved labeling, the flammability of hair after a period of time following application of the product, and the inherent danger in the product. The manufacturer has since changed the product formula so that it is no longer flammable. This is an example of a general category of fire investigation involving the enhanced flammability of hair many hours after hair products are applied. Chemaxx has investigated similar incidents in several different states.

 Dr. Fox is also a Certified Fire & Explosion Investigator who is also an aerosol expert. He made presentations at national societies on the fire and explosion hazards associated with aerosols and has published several peer-reviewed, scientific papers on the failure of aerosols.