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Better Air From Greasy Hair February 29, 2008

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Environment, Human Body, Think About It.
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Greasy Hair

It may not always look and feel so pretty, but greasy hair might actually reduce how much ozone you breathe in. It’s thought that the oils in hair are somehow reacting with ozone in the environment.

Investigating Greasy Hair And Ozone

In a recent study, Lakshmi Pandrangi and Glen Morrison from the University of Missouri in the United States tested out their theories about ozone and hair. They exposed sixteen samples – eight washed and eight unwashed pieces of hair – to ozone for 24 hours. The results? Overall, the unwashed hair absorbed roughly seven times as much ozone as the freshly washed hair. Morrison explains:

For dirty hair, the ozone concentration around the head is likely to be substantially lower than the level in the room.

This means that when the unwashed hair absorbs more ozone, less is available for you to breathe in.

Ozone Is A Respiratory System Enemy

Ozone at ground-level is one of your respiratory system’s enemies. It can cause a bunch of respiratory ailments and is thought to increase mortality. So, it’s important to figure out ways to reduce our exposure.

Don’t Throw Out Your Shampoo

I wouldn’t chuck out that shampoo just yet though! The researchers also discovered that the unwashed hair samples caused a greater number of secondary-reaction products. One of these is 4-oxopentanal, which is a known respiratory irritant. It’s produced when the ozone reacts with the oils in hair. For people who are more prone to air pollution – such as the elderly or those who have compromised health from illness – reducing ozone exposure can be particularly important. It’s best, however, that they do it through an air filter. As for my readers, I certainly hope I don’t get emails from your parents complaining about your unwashed hair and birds nesting in your coiffs!

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