BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering a ban on a hair straightening chemical called formaldehyde. According to the FDA, formaldehyde is found in a number of hair relaxers and perms used among many Black women.

“Relaxers have been a good part of the industry for a while,” said Audrey Hilliard, a stylist and salon owner of Hair & More. “We thought that straight hair was more beautiful, but now we’re learning that also our own natural hair will also look beautiful.”

We’re also learning the health risks certain relaxers that contain the chemical formaldehyde can bring. According to the FDA, relaxers with formaldehyde release a gas when it’s heated, which happens during the flat ironing process. Based on data and research, exposure to that gas has been linked to respiratory problems and uterine cancer.

Juandalynn Givan, an Alabama state representative and attorney, said a number of women across the country are taking legal action because of this. Givan said her law firm is looking into this case.

“The problem came when so many Black women started getting sick,” Givan said. “So many different ailments. The common denominator: the hair care product.”

With talks of a class action lawsuit against certain hair companies in the works, Givan said we could see thousands of women speak out.

“We may be facing a crisis to a great extent if we don’t do something,” Givan said.

The FDA is encouraging women to be mindful of the hair products that you use. Read the ingredients, and if you see formaldehyde, be cautious and avoid using it.