Three members of Congress are taking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to task over what they say is a lack of progress on formaldehyde-laden Brazilian Blowout and other hair-straightening products that have caused health problems in stylists.

In a letter sent earlier this month to FDA Director Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Reps. Edward Markey, Earl Blumenauer and Jan Schakowsky voice their frustration over the failure of the agency to take decisive action on products such as Brazilian Blowout and Acai Professional Smoothing Solution (which is labeled “formaldehyde-free”), which testing has found to contain formaldehyde levels of up to 10.6% - far above OSHA’s Formaldehyde Standard of 0.1%.

“The FDA’s inaction on this matter is putting the health of thousands of salon workers and consumers at risk of dangerous formaldehyde exposure,” say the lawmakers, who note that that Canada, Ireland and Australia have all banned the distribution of Brazilian Blowout.  

Markey, Blumenauer and Shakowsky communicated their concerns to the FDA about the subject after OSHA issued an Alert on the products in May of last year. At that time, they requested that the agency take fast action in the form of voluntary recalls and the establishment of better labeling practices and warnings.

The FDA did notify GIB LLC, the maker of Brazilian Blowout, that its product was adulterated and misbranded under federal law. The company declined to reformulate the solution to reduce formaldehyde levels in it. Instead, its response to the FDA warning was to send letters to salons reaffirming the safety of its product and offering them a new loyalty program.

In January 2012, the California Attorney General’s Office reached a class-action settlement requiring GIB LLC to stop deceptive advertising practices and put warning labels on the product.

“We get to sell the product forever without reformulation,” said GIB LLC CEO Michael Brady. “In my eyes, that’s the acquittal we’ve been waiting for.”

The lawmakers are demanding that the FDA to exercise tighter control over Brazilian Blowout and similar hair straightening products, and ask – in their letter – for both a timeline on how they’re going to achieve it and documentation of their dealings with GIB LLC.