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US salons will employ more than 100,000 workers by 2022

Many nail salon workers are women of reproductive age who may be exposed to toxic chemicals.

Many nail salon workers are women of reproductive age who may be exposed to toxic chemicals.

When New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, JD, announced that her office was releasing a report on nail salons last year, it was anything but a frivolous task.

The policy report, “How Safe is Your Nail Salon?,” released in September, took a look at health and safety practices for both consumers and workers in New York City’s nail salons.

And with more than 2,000 businesses licensed to do manicures and pedicures in the city alone, the health of a large swath of the public is affected. In New York, the salons are regulated by the state — which has just 27 inspectors to help maintain their safety, James told The Nation’s Health.

The health and wellness of nail salon employees is no small matter, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated there were 86,900 manicurists and pedicurists in the U.S. in 2012. That number is expected to rise to 100,400 by 2022.

But that estimate is probably far too low, according to the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, which estimates there are 97,100 manicurists in California alone right now.

Up to 80 percent of those workers are Vietnamese immigrants, and more than 50 percent are women of reproductive age.

Duyen Tran, MPH, an APHA member and the interim outreach coordinator for the collaborative, says there are several reasons that nail salon work appeals to young women in the Vietnamese community.

Some of it is the flexibility working in a nail salon can afford: Employees can tailor their schedules around their families’ needs. Another reason is the ease with which a worker can enter into the industry and start making money. Training courses, which are 12 to 18 months long, and exams are offered in Vietnamese.

“To do nail salon work you don’t need high English proficiency,” Tran told The Nation’s Health. “It doesn’t require intensive English training, so it’s really an opportunity for this recent immigrant population to enter the workforce and use it to support their families and communities in a very short time.”

But joining the workforce means exposure to known dangerous products — and potentially unknown dangers, as well.

Three chemicals pose most risks to workers

The biggest risks to nail salon workers are “the toxic trio:” Toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate are the most common and dangerous ingredients in nail products, including polish and polish remover, that have been linked to serious health risks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, toluene exposure has been linked to tiredness, confusion, weakness, drunken-type actions, memory loss, nausea, loss of appetite and hearing and color vision loss. High levels of exposure have been linked to kidney damage.

Formaldehyde exposure can lead to irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, causing tearing, and skin irritation, according to CDC, and is a known carcinogen. CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry notes that dibutyl phthalate is linked to organ development issues in fetuses when exposed during gestation.

The toxic trio can be transmitted as airborne particles, through product contact with skin or eyes and via unintentional transfer of the materials to uncovered food, drink or cigarettes, according to research from the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reported that chemical levels can exceed 826 parts per million during the application of acrylics in nail salons, but proper ventilation can drop that to 12.4 parts per million.

Despite these risks, in Nails Magazine’s 2014-15 report, “Nails Big Book: Everything You Need to Know About the Nail Industry,” 34 percent of nail salon workers reported that they never wear protective gloves while working. Sixty-one percent said they never wear a mask while working. And more than half reported having work-related health concerns. Twenty-three percent said they were uninsured.

Salons can promote safety for workers

Though self-reported low numbers of nail salon workers take safety precautions, state and federal government regulations require certain steps to be taken to ensure worker safety. OSHA distributes “Stay Healthy and Safe While Giving Manicures and Pedicures: A Guide for Nail Salon Workers,” which outlines workers’ rights to health and safety for both employees and salon owners.

The guide has been translated to Vietnamese, Spanish and Korean. And OSHA has been working to reach out to communities to make sure workers’ rights are well-known, said Mandy Edens, MSPH, director of OSHA’s directorate for technical support and emergency management.

Source: The Nation’s Health; The article has been edited for length.

Concerned about chemical fumes in your salon or spa? Electrocorp has designed a wide range of indoor air cleaners for the beauty industry, which can remove airborne chemicals and particles, including toluene and formaldehyde. Contact Electrocorp for more information and a free consultation. Call 1-866-667-0297 or write to sales@electrocorp.net.

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Hair stylists who use certain products may harm their health.

Hair stylists who use certain products may harm their health.

NEW YORK – All a receptionist at Salon Zoë hair salon wanted to do was make her fellow employees aware of health hazards associated with products containing formaldehyde that were regularly used by haircutters and stylists at the business in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

Her employer responded by firing her.

As a result, the U.S. Department of Labor is suing the business and its owner, Kristina Veljovic, for discrimination, and seeking redress and compensation for the worker who exercised her rights under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

“This firing was illegal and inexcusable,” said Robert Kulick, regional administrator in New York for the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“It’s against the law to fire or otherwise retaliate against an employee for informing colleagues about possible health hazards in their place of employment. Such behavior not only intimidates workers, it also can deny them access to knowledge that will protect them against workplace hazards.”

The suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York says the worker began to experience respiratory distress in December 2011, including difficulty breathing and an impaired sense of smell. She sought medical attention on multiple occasions over the next several months. During this period, she also told her employer that she believed the salon’s hair-straightening products, which contain formaldehyde, were causing her health problems.

On June 27, 2012, she informed fellow employees of the presence of formaldehyde in the salon’s products and provided several co-workers with copies of an OSHA fact sheet* detailing the dangers of formaldehyde exposure.

Two days later, Kristina Veljovic terminated her employment. In July 2012, a physician confirmed that the worker’s respiratory distress resulted from her formaldehyde exposure at work. She subsequently filed an antidiscrimination complaint with OSHA, which investigated and found merit to her complaint.

“No employee should be fired for raising awareness of a potential workplace health hazard,” said Jeffrey Rogoff, the regional Solicitor of Labor in New York. “Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Labor Department has the authority to file suit against employers who retaliate against employees and it will do so when the case warrants. This is clearly one of those cases.”

The department’s lawsuit asks the court to affirm the discrimination charge and permanently prohibit the defendants from illegally retaliating against employees in the future.

It also seeks payment of lost wages as well as compensatory, punitive and emotional distress damages to the employee, an offer of reinstatement with full benefits and seniority and the removal of all references to the matter in the worker’s employment records.

It would also require the employer to prominently post a notice that she will not discriminate against employees.

In a related action, OSHA’s Tarrytown Area Office conducted an inspection of Salon Zoe and cited the company in December 2012 for lack of a chemical hazard communication program and for not providing the salon’s employees with information and training on formaldehyde and other hazardous chemicals.

OSHA enforces the whistleblower* provisions of the OSH Act and 21 other statutes protecting employees who report violations of various airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, health care reform, nuclear, pipeline, worker safety, public transportation agency, maritime and securities laws.

Employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees who raise various protected concerns or provide protected information to the employer or to the government.

Employees who believe that they have been retaliated against for engaging in protected conduct may file a complaint with the secretary of labor to request an investigation by OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program. Detailed information on employee whistleblower rights, including fact sheets, is available here.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

Source: OSHA

Remove dangerous chemicals in salons and spas

Hair salons, beauty centers and spas often use products that can contain and emit harmful chemicals and fumes.

Electrocorp's CleanBreeze 3 was conceived specifically for salons and spas

Electrocorp’s CleanBreeze 3 was designed for beauty salons and spas

These substances can affect worker health and well-being, especially after long-term exposure.

Electrocorp has designed a wide range of air cleaners for the hair styling and beauty industry, which help remove harmful fumes, chemicals, particles, odors and other contaminants from the ambient air.

Other air purifiers, such as Electrocorp’s CleanBreeze3, comes with a source capture attachment that can be positioned close to the head where the treatment is being used and helps remove harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde before they spread.

For more information and a free consultation, contact Electrocorp by calling 1-866-667-0297 or writing to sales@electrocorp.net.

Other risks include fumes from nail polishes and gels

Nail salons often use nail dryers to harden gel manicures.

Nail salons often use nail dryers to harden gel manicures.

Nail salon dryers, which use ultraviolet light to speed the drying and hardening of nail polishes and gels, emit varying levels of radiation that can lead to risky skin damage in as few as eight visits to the manicurist, a new study shows.

The nail dryers emit primarily UVA light — the same kind of ultraviolet light used in tanning beds — and are used to dry nail polish or to harden a gel manicure. Gel manicures are popular because they create long-lasting, shiny nails through a chemical gel that is painted on the nail in layers and cured under UV light after every coating.

Case reports of two women who developed squamous cell skin cancers on their hands have suggested an association between cancer and the UV nail light devices, but most doctors agree the risk is low.

In the new study, researchers from Georgia Regents University in Augusta conducted a random sampling of 17 different UV nail lamps found in salons to determine how much ultraviolet radiation is being emitted when clients dry their nails under the lights.

The study, published as a research letter this week in the journal JAMA Dermatology, found wide variation in the dose of UVA light emitted during eight minutes of nail drying or hardening. The dose, measured in joules per centimeter squared, ranged from less than one to eight.

“There is a vast range in the amount of light coming out of these devices,” said Dr. Lyndsay R. Shipp, the study’s lead author and a postgraduate resident at the university’s Medical College of Georgia. The amount of UV exposure ranged from “barely” to “significant,” she said.

DNA damage that can lead to skin cancer is known to occur around 60 joules per centimeter squared, and none of the nail lamps came close to that number. However, the researchers estimated that for most of the lamps tested, eight to 14 visits over 24 to 42 months would reach the threshold for DNA damage to the skin.

The study authors noted that the “risk from multiple manicure visits remains untested,” but the study suggested that “even with numerous exposures, the risk for carcinogenesis remains small.”

Dr. Shipp said, “There is a theoretical risk, but it’s very low.”

Lamps with higher-wattage bulbs emitted the highest levels of UV radiation, but it would not be easy for a salon client to check the wattage before using a machine. Dr. Shipp said she sometimes uses the nail lamps and will continue to do so.

“I do use them every couple of months,’’ she said, noting that “you can get that amount of exposure when driving down the road in your car.”

Clients who are concerned about the risk but want to continue getting gel manicures, which require UV light, have a few options. They can skip the lotion-and-massage portion of the manicure and instead coat their hands with sunscreen before having gel nails applied.

Another option is to wear UV-protective gloves with the fingertips cut off so only the nails are exposed to the light. Users of regular nail polish can try fans or air-drying if they want to avoid the devices.

Source: NY Times

Concerned about chemical exposure at your workplace? Hair and nail salons, spas and other beauty establishments often use products that contribute to poor indoor air quality, which may affect the health and well-being of staff and customers. Electrocorp has designed industrial and commercial air cleaners for beauty salons and spas that can remove dangerous chemicals and fumes, particles and odors. Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Beautiful hair may come at a price: Many salon workers and clients are exposed to chemicals.

What are hair salon hazards?

Chemicals used in the beauty industry are unregulated, and many release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carcinogens.

Studies show that hairdressers have triple the risk of developing breast cancer and are more likely to develop leukemia and multiple myeloma.

There is no limit to how far people will go for great looking hair.  The zeitgeist of the last decade is characterized by celebrity styles that go from dark to light, curly to straight and vice versa.

The problem with indoor air pollutants – and hair salon hazards – is that many of the effects are long term.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.6 million people will die every year as a result of indoor air pollution.

Poor indoor air quality in salons

In salons, masks and general ventilation systems offer little or no protection against airborne chemicals that may cause damage to the immune, reproductive, neurological and respiratory systems.

On a daily basis, hairdressers are exposed to several chemicals including ammonia, phenylenediamine (PPD), sodium hydroxide and hydrogen peroxide. New trends like the Japanese and Brazilian straightening treatments add chemicals like formaldehyde to that roster.

Aside from causing hair loss, bruising and eczema like reaction on the scalp, Brazilian straightening treatments can cause lung inflammation, asthma, severe allergic reactions and death.

A list of toxic chemicals lurking in salons

  1. Ammonia
    Ammonia is used in hair dye to allow color molecules to penetrate.  Ammonia irritates the eyes, skin and respiratory tract, and may cause asthma and other breathing problems.
  2. Phenylenediamine (PPD)
    When it comes to hair dyes, Phenylenediamine (PPD) is the most common cause of allergic reactions.  This chemical is very toxic and when inhaled, it may cause damage to the liver, kidneys, nervous system and respiratory tract.  The fumes emitted by PPD also cause inflammation of the airways, which make it difficult to breathe.
  3. Sodium Hydroxide
    Sodium hydroxide is often used in hair relaxers and causes damage to the respiratory tract and severe pneumonitis.
  4. Formaldehyde
    Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen.  Aside from being linked to cancer, it may cause irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, coughing and wheezing, as well as skin irritation.  This chemical is also used to embalm the departed.

Gaseous pollutants like VOCs are the result of a variety of hair processes.  Combined with the regular air contaminating culprits – mold, dust mites, ozone and petrochemicals – poor indoor air quality is a real hair salon hazard.

Air cleaners for hair and hail salons need to be equipped with at least 27 pounds of activated carbon, and several inches of carbon filter depth.

Additionally, an electrostatic pre-filter accompanied by a pleated HEPA filter will help trap particle contaminants.

For more information, contact Electrocorp.

Brazilian Blowout agrees to pay consumers and stylists who claim they were harmed by the treatment.

The hair-straightening product Brazilian Blowout has been under siege for a while after numerous complaints from users, government inquiries and filed claims.

The reason for all the excitement is the formaldehyde-content in the products, which the company allegedly failed to label correctly.

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and a toxic volatile organic compound that is emitted during the hair straightening process when heat is applied to the product in the hair to straighten it.

The company was also the subject of a class-action lawsuit, which it agreed to settle on Monday for about $4.5 million.

The agreement stipulates that consumers that say they were harmed by the product get $35 for each treatment (with a maximum of three per person), while stylists would receive $75 for each bottle of the product they purchased.

The company also has to change its marketing and take off the “formaldehyde-free “claims on the products, while also providing more detailed instructions on safe use.

The company settled another lawsuit earlier this year when it agreed to the California attorney general’s office to pay $600,000 in fees and penalties and to warn consumers about the release of formaldehyde from the product.

The company is still allowed to sell the popular hair straightening product and people are free to use it – but the goal was to make sure they use it in a safe way, litigators said.

Source: New York Times

Chemical concerns in salons and spas

Formaldehyde is not the only chemical threat in hair salons and spas. Most hair products, including hairsprays, mousses, shampoos and other fragrance-filled treatments emit chemicals, volatile organic compounds and other toxins.

CleanBreeze 3: A powerful air cleaner with source capture.

While good ventilation and proper use of the products are essential, many ventilation systems are unable to provide enough fresh air to reduce the chemical concentration in the ambient air.

An industrial-strength air cleaner from Electrocorp can help. Electrocorp has designed air cleaners specifically for the hair salon and spa environment, including nail salons.

The air cleaners are equipped with many pounds of activated carbon, HEPA and other filters to remove the widest range of indoor air pollutants from the ambient air.

Other air cleaners also feature a special source capture attachment to remove toxins right at the source and prevent them from spreading into the space.

Contact Electrocorp for more information and suggestions.

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