It was incorrectly reported in yesterday's Washington Post that Clairesse was included in a list of Clairol, Inc., hair dye products cited by the Environmental Defense Fund as containing the chemical 2,4-diaminoasnisole, which the National Cancer Institute found to cause cancer in laboratory animals. Clairesse, a new product in the Clairol line, does not contain the suspect chemical.

Permanent hair dye products used by an estimated 30 million women in the United States contain a cancer-causing chemical and should be labeled as such or taken off the market, the Environmental Defense Fund charged yesterday.

Citing soon-to-be-released data from the National Cancer Institute, the fund recommended that consumers discontinue using hair dye products containing 2.4-diaminoanisole and return unused dye to the stores where purchased.

A series of tests in which the chemical was fed to mice and rats by NCI scientists "leaves no doubt that (2,4-diaminoanisole) is both carcinogenic and mutagenic (tumor causing) and presents a potential risk to humans as it is absorbed through the scalp," the environmental group warned in a press conference.

The $280 million-a-year permanent hair dye industry responded immeditately by saying the NCI data come from experiments in which laboratory mice were fed vast amounts of the chemicals - the equivalent of a woman drinking 25 bottles of hair dye a day for her lifetime.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) "jumped to conclusions" on the basis of unevaluated studies by the NCI while ignoring epidemiological surveys that show no correlation between the use of hair dyes and cancer, according to officials of the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Frangrance Association, a trade association for the industry.

In a petition to the Food and Drug Administration, EDF said that most permanent hair dyes manufactured by Clairol, Revlon, Albero Culver and Cosmair contain the suspect chemicals.

The brand names cited by the defense fund include certain coloring shades of L'Oreal Preference, Excellence and Super Blond Tone dyes; Revlon's Colorsilk Mistake Proof hair coloring; Alberto Culver's For Brunettes Only; Clarrol's Nice 'n Easy and Miss Clairol Creme Formula, and Clairol's Naturally Blonde, Summer Blonde, Clairesse, Balsam and True Brunette products.

Non-permanent hair dyes, or rinses, do not contain the chemical and are not an issue.

The fund asked that each be required to label the product with the wagning that the chemical "can enter your bloodstream through your scalp and has been shown to cause cancer in animals."

Moreover, EDF asked the manufacturers to withdraw the chemical voluntarily from hair dye products, and asked Congress to amend the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act to give the FDA authority to ban hair dyes found to be hazardous.

FDA Commissioner Donald Kennedy later said the administration has asked the NCI to expedite tis study for the chemical because "we've been concerned about it." He said the FDA will take regulatory action "if necessary after the results are final."

The study cited by the fund was part of the National Cancer Institute's bioassay program, whose purpose is to edetect cancer-causing agents in more than 200 chemicals.

EDF's Joseph H. Highland said the date showed that 2,4-diaminoanisole, which on hair dye labels in commonly called 4-methoxy-m-phenylenediamine, caused significantly higher incidence of thyroid, skin, zymbal gland, preputial gland, ear canal and clitorial gland cancers in laboratory animals.

For example, 24 per cent of female rats fed the chemical in high does not developed thyroid tumors, and the same proportion of male rats developed skin tumors, Highland said. Smaller doses of the chemical resulted in fewer incidences of tumors, he said.

The average woman's use of hair dye once a month would result in an absorption rate of 2,4-diaminoanisole equivalent in danger to occupational exposure to the known cancer-causing agent benzidene, Highland said. He added, "This is clearly cause for concern."

EDF said it reviewed a number of epidemiological studies and found them to be inconclusive, contradictory and of little value in assessing the danger of hair dyes.

The environmental group had barely scheduled its press conference shen the cosmetics industry began a counter offensive, renting a conference room across the hall in the Capital Hilton from where EDF announced its findings, and Contactin's reporters to rebut what it expected the fund to charge.

In its press conference, its press conference, the Cosmetic, Toiletry and Frangrance Association issued press kits containing various epidemiological and laboratory studies it said prove that hair dyes containing 2,4-diaminoanisole are safe.

Four studies conducted by the American Cancer Society and scientists at Yale University, Oxford and Toronto University show no difference between cancer rates among people heavily exposed to hair dyes and those who are not, it asserted.

John H. Corbett, Clairol's vice president for research and chairman of the association's hair coloring technical committee, attacked the NCI study as "solid state toxicology - let's fill these animals up with as much as they can take."

There are over 300 chemicals known to be cancer-causing in animals, but few have been shown to produce the same effects in humans, Corbett said in a sharp denunciation of the NCI's bioassay methods.