Hair dryer emissions

My daughter has a supposedly decent mid-range hair dryer, a “Silver Bullet Black Velvet”. She recently bought a Samsung air purifier. She noticed that the pm 10, 2.5 and 1.0 particle counts were going up to ~300+ after she dried her hair, but didn’t know why.

I have a cheaper VS Sassoon. From memory, it was a “Shaver Shop special”. I remember when I bought it, the box claimed it had “ceramic technology”, which amused to to a degree. The sales girl had no idea what that meant. So, my daughter just tested this in the same way as her own. The pm counts peaked at ~100 for pm10, and 60-80 for pm 2.5 and pm 1.0. “Ceramic technology”?

I tried to search for particle emission counts for hair dryers, only to find quite a few articles on EMR emissions for hair dryers. Apparently, the average hair dryer emits more electromagnetic radiation than a mobile phone transmitter.

Who knew? NSW Health and Vic EPA information suggests that ANY exposure is potentially harmful.

Maybe the next time Choice reviews hair dryers, it would be good if they add particle and EMR emissions to the test criteria.

Makes you wonder if the same applies to any other appliances - e.g. clothes dryers.


You are mixing up two kinds of emissions.

Small particulates such as PM (particulate matter) 2 or 10 are quite dangerous, particularly the smaller PM2. These are usually produced by combustion, so they are found on city streets from vehicle fuel combustion, from open fires, railways that have diesel engines or airports. We breath this stuff all the time. It is advisable to avoid heavy concentrations of PM from any source, highly polluted cities or bushfires are at the top of the list.

I cannot think why a hair dryer is burning anything and I suggest that if yours is something is wrong. My guess is that the readings you are getting from your air purifier are vapour from your hair. It could be shampoo, conditioner or water vapour. If you want to see this for yourself spray some fly spray or deodorant at your purifier and watch the readings go up. The difference in readings is not the two hairdryers but different hair products.

EMR is electromagnetic radiation, this is radiation not small particles+++. This may be gamma, x-ray, ultraviolet, visible light, infra-red, radio and long waves; in descending order of danger to health. All electrical devices emit some EMR but mostly it is in the last two categories which are least concern. Of course that big emitter in the sky will give you sunburn etc too. We are also exposed to this radiation all the time, however it is only the ionising sort (the first three categories) which are proven to be very dangerous. If your hairdryer is emitting gamma rays your brain is fried and you should be checking your will.

Please give us a reference to the dangers of EMR from hairdryers as this is a doubtful area in my view.

+++ Please no digressions into the wave-particle duality of light.


All electrical devices produce electrical and magnetic fields, and therefore EMR as they interact.
Some are designed specifically to do so. Light globes, toasters, microwave ovens, radio devices like cell phones and WiFi.
With others it is a byproduct, like hair dryers, which use electricity to both produce an air flow using a fan and motor, and to heat that air.

This hair dryer concern is just another take on electrical devices used close to your brain, like the mobile phone issue that has been going on for decades.

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Most electrical devices we use in our homes produce EMR. From one research paper:
The influence of electromagnetic radiation on a human was evaluated and appropriate recommendations for protection from EMR were developed. Technologies of a human protection from electromagnetic radiation are considered. The results of experimental studies of electromagnetic fields are presented. It has been experimentally established that the maximum level of the electromagnetic field of a trolleybus exceeded the permissible value by 44 times, a tram - by 30 times; a vacuum cleaner - 20 times, a microwave oven - 16 times, a hair dryer and a transmission line - 14 times, a
mobile phone 9 times, a computer 8 times, a laptop 7 times.”

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The particles will be dead skin, broken hair pieces, dust, pollen and other things that accumulate in the hair over time. It is also possible that could be flakes of hair products as well.

Hair is generally negatively charged which makes it an ideal place to attract positively charged particles when one walks. When one blow-dries their hair, the energy through brushing and drying of the hair causes everything to be trapped, to be released to the air.

An element in a hair drier shouldn’t release significant quantities of solid particles. There may be minor metallic particles from the oxidising of the heating element. Most particles coming out from the front of the drier will be from the hair being dried. A hair drier may release things like ozone or burnt air particles (like those outlined earlier in this post) which go through the heating element.

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A more reliable source that contradicts the research paper.

There are occupations where workers are exposed to EMF many thousands of times greater than in the home and those produced by the use of hair dryers. I no longer need to use a hair dryer, while I last rode a trolley bus in the 1960’s. There is ongoing research to better understand the relationships. The short answer.

Studies have shown that some workers exposed to high magnetic fields have increased cancer rates. But such associations do not necessarily show that EMF exposures cause cancer (any more than the springtime association of robins and daffodils shows that one causes the other). Scientists have looked carefully at all the EMF evidence, but they disagree about the health effects of EMFs except to say that better information is needed.


Wow. A trollybus, and a tram excessive EMF. Those nasty electric motors causing all that no doubt.
Look out drivers. Your electric car will be public enemy next with its nasty electric motor.


I’m not mixing them up. I very clearly understand the difference. I don’t have anything to measure the EMR with. The issue of EMR is as much proximity as it is level. High voltage power lines emit EMR radiation, but this diminishes rapidly with distance. Within a metre might be a high reading. 20 metres might be negligible. Some hair dryers claim “ionic technology”. This is allegedly designed to run at a lower temperature. Usually, ionic emission sources also emit corrosive ozone as a byproduct. Depending on the levels, that could be a problem, or not.

Particles are different. They get into your lungs. Samsung’s AX7500K measure these and filters them for this reason.

The “ceramic technology” is claimed to dry hair at lower, less damaging (to the hair) temperatures. If the source of the particles are hair products, that might explain it, however, the Samsung also filters volatile organis compounds, and I’d expect such products to fall into those categories more likely than particles, which usually come from burning hydrocarbons.

I’d need to do more experimentation to see whether the levels relate to hair product or the device. Or maybe it’s dust in the air that’s burned in the dryer. Either way, it’s not good.

300 micrograms per m3 averaged over an hour is rated as pretty bad air quality.

I tested two hair dryers. Both relatively new. Two different levels, but both significant. Without a device to measure the air, I would not have noticed it. If it gave me athsma, I would have assumed some other cause.

The best answer would come from a sample of the air the purifier is measuring and a proper analysis under the microscope.

Should we put any confidence in the measurements the Samsung air purifier is reporting? One industry view specific to a well known brand.

Dependant on the type of sensor and technology it employs the Samsung may be detecting the water vapour component in the air as solid particles. That the Samsung AP is reporting 3 different particle ranges suggests a very sophisticated instrument, or rather a very dumb one that assumes a standard distribution across each size range from a single measurement of … something.

A basic portable (non laboratory standard) device such as one of these might prove a useful comparison for any home testing.

Alternately the tech can be hired.

I’d suggest that rather than look to the hair dryer as a source of particular contaminants, it is also necessary to look to whether the Samsung AP measurements can be relied upon. It’s just possible that the key to your observation is a high level of airborn household particulates, typically fine fabric fibres from towels, clothing, carpets etc, and dried human skin.


As you put it it seems you are relating PM and EMR. You have thoroughly confused me.

Ozone is very pungent, if there was more than a trace you would smell it.

This is nonsense. Hair is damaged by high temperature, the way that the heater works is irrelevant.

It may well be dust that is burning. You will get a big whiff of that if you don’t use the hairdryer for a while, just like a fan heater.

There would be much more in the way of PM coming from that, or from your gas stove, fuel stove or lawn mower. OK you don’t use the mower indoors but you walk behind it or ride it for some time. Living down wind from a mine, gas field, fuel fired power plant or being near an airport or main road will give you a big dose of PMs and often 24/7 not just when you dry your hair. The industrial world is dangerous.


Some more information from the Samsung web page on what the PM sensor of their purifiers detect.

Note: The following conditions may cause temporarily high readings of PM level:

  • When the product is used near fur rugs or used in vets, clothes stores, or other places prone to high humidity, smoke or infestation.
  • When humidifiers, electric pressure cookers, sprayers and such are being used in the same room
  • When the product is used where there is an inflow of outside air with dust or other types of air pollution (e.g. proximity to the building’s HVAC or ventilation systems, or loose window frames)
  • Nearby electromagnetic waves or electrical noises may cause temporarily high readings of PM level

Note the false positives where moisture or electrical noise may show as PMs. This says to me their air purifiers are not very suitable for measuring PMs and if you do use it for that your would have to be very careful to eliminate sources that would invalidate the results.

Ensuring your testing methodology is good does not address the question of how accurate the sensor is even under controlled conditions where just one source of PM is being measured without any confounding sources. I cannot find any information on the Samsung web page about the accuracy of the PM meter.

So far I am not finding any information that supports the idea that Choice ought to measure PMs or EMR from hairdryers.


Interesting comments. The water “particle” detection is an interesting idea. I would have thought that water, post dryer, would be in molecular form rather than droplets, but it certainly could be a case of the purifier detection mechanism not being accurate. Hygrometers rather than particle detectors measure humidity. It could be impurities in the water, but why different scores from different hair dryers?

The problem with the dust theory is that when a blow dryer gets dust in the inlet filter gauze, it smells. There is no obvious smell when these hair dryers operate. They’re not gathering dust. I have an older air purifier, and when we had bush fires a couple of years back, you could obviously smell the smoke, and the purifier clearly cleaned the air inside the room it was in. It would be interesting to do some of those other tests…

I have mocked the “ceramic technology” claims myself, because it sounds like a marketing gimmick.

Having looked at this, I’m not sure that Choice needs to test it either. I can’t find the source that I found that had the original claim about the emissions, and it was from before I tested the second dryer.

A valid test would require a calibrated particle meter and test in a controlled airflow environment. That’s probably expensive for limited value.

Interesting discussion anyway. This thread can probably die now.


Only combustible dust may smell if burnt on the elements. A lot of combustible materials will pass directly through a hair dryer and won’t have the opportunity to combust and create compounds like VOCs.

Non-combustible dust, such as mineral dust, doesn’t combust or create a smell when heated.

Filters on hair dryers aren’t designed to filter out small sized fractions (such as ≤PM10) and most if these will pass through the hair dryer unscathed, albeit a little warmer as a result of mixing with heated air.

An inlet filter should also not get hot as it is in the preheating section of the hair dryer. If a particle is trapped by the filter, it shouldn’t get hot when a dryer is operated. It may get heated after a dryer is turned off and flow of air through the dryer ceases. Hot air under such conditions could discharge through the inlet.

There would be effects of radiant heat (e.g. infrared) from the hot elements, but in a high flow environment like an inlet for a hair dryer, the cool air flowing through the inlet would ameliorate and significant radiant heating effects.

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We should not assume that a detector intended to register PM will only detect that. The detectors operate by shining light through the inlet path and detecting the reduction due to something in the way of the beam. The degree to which water vapour gave false positives would depend on the frequency of the light (and probably other things) as water molecules have specific absorption bands.

As I said above a squirt of fly spray that has active ingredients dissolved in a solvent, usually in water these days, will set your sensor right off. There is no solid PM in that.

As explained in the link posted by @mark_m they also are subject to false negatives in some situations.

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As a short aside I asked an expert. One of the senior staff when I had a haircut today. It’s a long established Hairdresser. Being a small town there are two and no barber.

The short story is there was no knowledge in rely to my enquiry of risks from hair dryers emitting harmful radiation, or low radiation versions.

They’d just received an alluring display of red leather styled gift packs of top end Hair Dryers (VS Sassoon). Priced well above my annual budget for hair management needs. Also likely wasted on the remnant no 2 trim.

No promotion of magical powers or low radiation featured. Fluffyness assured - for selective customers only. :wink:

There remains the option to engage the talents of a cutting team further up into the hinterland mountains next time. I’ve an upturned colander in preparation, and am hopeful of passing for a local. :rofl:

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Anything is possible?
There’s a committed and diverse local community with many special interest groups.

An imaginative lot in that one recent settler saw reminders of the wilds of highland Scotland and the Conor River while others the Teutobergh Forest of Germany. The first settlers not aware of foreign belief had already named it for the Dingo in their language. Also now something more likely to be imagined than observed.

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Since I have a CO2 monitor for my home, which I find very helpful because when I have visitors I know exactly when to turn on my Fresh Air input on my Air con system, I considered getting the Aeroqual Portable Air Quality Monitor you have featured …until I checked the price! I am afraid it is just too expensive for me at present, I guess I will just have to keep relying on the sensor on my air purifier.