Salon Air Quality & Ventilation Code Experts

Hair stylists are exposed to airborne chemical contaminants on a daily basis.  The salon industry is notorious for having improper ventilation in place to protect salon workers from overexposure to salon chemical vapors, mists and dusts.  An incomplete understanding of both salon ventilation control measures and OSHA regulatory requirements are factors which often contribute to respiratory illness of hair stylists who are exposed to airborne chemical contaminants on a daily basis.  Recent advancements in salon ventilation technologies have been introduced to the salon industry, which when used and maintained properly, can allow salon workers to provide all types of salon chemical services in a safe working environment without compromising their health.


There are two types of ventilation:

Source capture ventilation is designed to capture salon chemical vapors and dusts at or near its source, protecting the hair stylists’ breathing zone, and preventing inhalation of, or dispersing of contaminants into the salon air.

The system pictured above shows an example of source capture ventilation supplemented by a whole salon air purifier (bottom right)

General exhaust ventilation (also called dilution ventilation) is different from source capture ventilation because instead of capturing emissions at their source and removing them from the air, general exhaust ventilation allows the chemical vapors & dusts to be emitted into the salon air and breathing zone of the hair stylist, and then possibly inhaled into the cosmetologist’s respiratory system.  General ventilation then dilutes the concentration of contaminants to an acceptable level.

Salon ventilation has become a hot topic with the introduction of keratin hair smoothing services.  Formaldehyde vapors are released into the air when heat is applied during blow drying and flat ironing of the hair, as well as during application of keratin hair smoothing products which contain formaldehyde releasing ingredients.  Repeated overexposure to formaldehyde vapors can cause “sensory irritation”, (i.e. burning / watery eyes, scratchy throat and runny nose).  Other symptoms may include difficulty breathing, occupation-related asthma and other related skin allergic sensitivity.  To avoid this overexposure, proper salon ventilation is vital.