The plume of burning hair occurring during laser hair removal should be considered a biohazard, reported Gary S. Chuang, MD, of Harvard Medical School, Boston and his coauthors.

Use of smoke evacuators, good ventilation, and respiratory protection are warranted, especially for health care workers exposed to the plume for extended periods, they said.

Discarded trunk hairs from two adult volunteers were sealed in chambers and treated with a laser; two negative pressure canisters captured 30 seconds of laser plume for analysis using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. This analysis identified 377 chemical compounds, 13 of which were known or suspected carcinogens, and more than 20 were known environmental toxins.

While the laser was treating the hair, the particle counters recorded a eightfold increase in ultrafine-particle concentrations, compared with ambient room baseline; this occurred even with a smoke evacuator within 5 cm of the procedure site. When a smoke evacuator was turned off for 30 seconds, the increase was 26-fold, Dr. Chuang and his associates reported.

Read more at JAMA Dermatology ( 2016;152[12]:1320-6 ).


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