The smooth, hairless skin many women crave may come at a huge cost to the technicians who use the lasers that makes their wishes come true. According to findings a research team shared at a recent meeting of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, the laser plumes released during laser hair removal contain certain chemical compounds human and animal studies showed to be harmful reported

For the study, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard School of Public Health and Boston University zapped donor hair samples with a single shot from a laser. Next, scientists reviewed the laser plumes produced with a technique called gas chromatography. (Gas chromatography separates compound mixtures into their individual parts to more easily identify them.)

Researchers found 13 compounds that cause cancer and bone marrow abnormalities, headache and nausea, foul odors, spark birth defects in pregnant rats and a variety of components found in soap and perfume that might contain unknown levels of poisons.

Health standards from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health suggest that practitioners of any surgical procedure that creates a plume also use a device (a.k.a. an evacuator) to remove dangerous chemicals in the air they, or their clients, might breathe in.

“With chemicals, most masks are useless, so hopefully you will get an evacuator that has a chemical cartridge impregnated with charcoal, and that’s able to take out the majority of the [chemicals],” said Gary S. Chuang, MD, of the department of dermatology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

Besides laser hair removal, there are other less risky ways to get rid of unwanted hair. Click here to read more.