TheWeek recently published an article titled "The Colonization of Space", which contained the following sentence (emphasis added):

Prolonged exposure to microgravity weakens bones, atrophies muscles, and even makes facial hair flammable.

This strikes me as very unlikely. Mechanically, it makes sense that loose scalp hair floating in zero-g would be more flammable, just as aerosolized corn starch can easily burn. But, beard or mustache hair (assuming it isn't very long) wouldn't loft much in space, and so wouldn't become structurally more flammable. Instead, the implication is that the whiskers somehow becomes inherently more flame-prone.

Does this claim make any sense? Is there any backing for this idea?

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    $\begingroup$ I love the artwork at least i.stack.imgur.com/FU9Fw.png $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 29 '18 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps a massive misunderstanding of cause/effect in something like the Apollo 1 fire? A high pressure O2 environment made everything in the capsule flammable warps to 'space makes beards flammable' when a non engineer tries comprehending the risks? I wish I didn't have to say I'd heard worst. $\endgroup$ – Saiboogu Nov 29 '18 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ Minor side point to OP - My beard is about 5" at it's longest. It maintains an identical shape when I tip my head back and point my chin at the sky. I'd expect all but the longest beards to stay pretty static in zero G, facial hair tends to be pretty stiff and interlocked. $\endgroup$ – Saiboogu Nov 29 '18 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ Now I have an urge to see those competition class beards in zero G. Should the winners get a Vomit Comet ride? $\endgroup$ – Saiboogu Nov 29 '18 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ @MagicOctopusUrn Look no further than the current ISS CDR for facial hair in space. There's no regulation that limits it - the only lien against facial hair (or hair of any kind) is if it interferes with EMU or Sokol suit fit and performance. Bite valves, comm booms, valsalva devices, etc all must be able to be reachable and functional without interference. That drives most astronauts to stick to a close shave, or minimal beard. As to the flammability thing - I've never heard of this, and I work ISS medops. $\endgroup$ – JPattarini Dec 4 '18 at 16:02

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