Photo: Receita Federal - Brazil
Brazilian custom authorities working out of the Sao Paulo International airport are reporting the seizure of one ton of human hair valued at $400,000.
The unusual cargo originated from India and was valued by the importer as a $6,400 shipment. Authorities also allege the importer was not the intended user of the human hair, therefore in legal trouble for understating the value and providing false information to custom authorities.
Human hair is often used for wigs and hair extensions, but can also have some off-beat uses like for gardening, creating paint brushes and even for making solar panels. According to the BBC, human hair is now big business in the U.S. and UK. The UK alone imports close to $30 million worth of human hair, most of it coming from India and China. Indian hair is the preferred import because it is not as coarse and brittle as Chinese hair. Natural blond/light hair garners the highest price. The practice of Hindu pilgrims shaving their heads has created a win-win for everyone: the pilgrims make money selling their hair and women are able to get hair extensions in abundance.
The seizure came with a warning from Brazilian officials “consumers of this type of product [urged] always to ensure whether the supplier respects National Sanitary Surveillance Agency requirements” on sterilizing and disinfecting imported hair.