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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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Parents' chemical exposure at work may affect their children's health.

Parents’ exposure to chemicals such as benzene, toluene and TCE may affect their children’s health.

Brain tumors in children could have as much to do with the father’s occupational exposure to solvents as they have to do with the mother’s, a new Australian study has found.

The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, has found a link between parents’ exposure to chemicals such as benzene, toluene, and trichloroethylene and brain tumors in their children.

Lead author Dr Susan Peters, occupational epidemiologist at the University of Western Australia, says while brain tumors are relatively rare they are a major cause of cancer death among children, and the causes are largely unknown.

“Because most of the cases occur before age five, the question is what are the risk factors because there are some genetic syndromes that are known to cause brain tumors but only in less than five per cent of cases,” says Peters.

“The children are pretty young, [so] it could be that some of the parental exposures before or during pregnancy may be a cause.”

The new study surveyed nearly 306 cases of parents of children up to 14 years old with brain tumors, which were diagnosed between 2005 – 2010 in Australia.

The researchers compared the parents’ occupational exposures to solvents with those of 950 parents whose children did not have brain tumors.

The findings suggest that fathers working in jobs where they are regularly exposed to benzene in the year before their child is conceived are more than twice as likely to have that child develop a brain tumor.

Women working in occupations that expose them to a class of compounds called chlorinated solvents — found in degreasers, cleaning solutions, paint thinners, pesticides and resins — at any time in their lives also have a much higher risk of their child developing a brain tumor.

Building on previous studies

While brain tumors in children are relatively rare, previous studies have suggested a link between parental occupation and childhood brain tumors, finding parents working in industries such as the chemical and petroleum industries, car-related jobs, and jobs with regular exposure to paint, have a higher risk of their children developing brain tumors.

Peters says a previous study in rats also found that toluene — found in petrol, paints, and inks — had an effect on sperm cells, which points to a possible explanation for the link in humans.

Commenting on the study, Emeritus Professor Michael R. Moore, vice president of the Australasian College of Toxicology and Risk Assessment, says the data shows paternal exposure was a key issue.

“This is the children being directly affected by the father and the father’s exposure is taking place prior to the children being conceived,” says Moore.

“Parents who are thinking of having children should be thinking about not just what’s happening with the mums but also with the dads.”

Peters stressed that the study only involved relatively small numbers of cases, and it was still too early to say whether solvent exposure was the cause of childhood brain tumors.

However she said these solvents were associated with a range of other effects so exposure should be kept as low as possible anyway.

Source: ABC

Concerned about chemical exposure at work? Electrocorp has designed easy-to-use air cleaners for commercial and industrial applications. The air purifiers feature a deep-bed activated carbon filter for the removal of airborne chemicals (including toluene, benzene, TCE and more), fumes, gases and odors, a HEPA filter for dust and particles as well as optional UV germicidal filtration for the neutralization of bacteria, viruses and mold. Contact Electrocorp for more information and a free consultation.

Nail polish fumes have been linked to serious health problems.

Nail polish fumes have been linked to serious health problems.

Nail salons are where women turn for pampering and polish. But under the luxurious veneer, salons aren’t always healthy places to be.

Authorities are beginning to notice the serious health risks associated with nail products and they are starting to act.

Last year, Alameda County’s Department of Environmental Health began a Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Program to push its roughly 350 salons, which employ 1,000 manicurists, to adopt healthier practices. San Francisco was the first city in the nation to launch such a program in 2012, and Santa Monica followed in July.

Alameda County publicly honored Leann’s Nails and six other salons last month for becoming certified in its program. Requirements include installing proper ventilation and ensuring employees wear gloves. Salons also must significantly limit their use of products with chemicals that are health hazards.

“These people are working with these materials constantly,” said Pamela Evans, the coordinator of Alameda County’s nail salon program. “They’re being used right in very close proximity to people’s breathing zones.”

 

Losing the ‘toxic trio’

The polishes in Leann’s Nails come in every hue, from turquoise to fuchsia, but a sign makes it clear that they do not contain what health officials refer to as the “toxic trio”: dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde.

Exposure to these compounds can result in headaches, dizziness and irritations in the eyes, skin, nose and throat. It can also lead to more severe, long-term problems.

Dibutyl phthalate, which gives polishes flexibility and a moisturizing sheen, is linked to developmental problems in animals. Toluene, which is used to create a smooth look in polishes, can cause damage to the liver and kidneys and harm unborn children during pregnancy. And formaldehyde, which hardens polish, is a carcinogen.

Those are just the polishes. Businesses that join the county’s Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Program also must stay away from polish removers with butyl acetate, methyl acetate and ethyl acetate, which collectively can cause drowsiness and irritate the eyes, skin and other parts of the body.

Finally, salons must not use thinners – which remove thick clumps from polish – that contain toluene or methyl ethyl ketone, which is associated with upset stomachs, headaches and loss of appetite.

Environment regulators and consumer advocates have long been trying to limit these exposures.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to evaluate workers’ exposure to dust and chemical vapors, and, if the levels are a health risk, provide workers with respiratory gear for protection.

Most work in a nail salon will not require respiratory protection if proper ventilation and safe work practices are in place, according to the agency.

 

Misleading claims

But it can be difficult to properly evaluate chemical exposures, especially because some nail products that claim to be free of the “toxic trio” in fact contain one or more of the hazardous chemicals, according to a 2012 analysis of 25 randomly selected products by the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Symptoms can also worsen when they go unreported, as is often the case among the thousands of Vietnamese women employed in salons, said Julia Liou, co-founder of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, a health advocacy group.

Of California’s estimated 300,000 licensed nail technicians, about 80 percent are of Vietnamese descent, Liou said. Many do not speak English well, feel uncomfortable complaining to management and are of child-bearing age, when reproductive poisons can be particularly harmful.

“Workers often feel very powerless to invoke their rights to have a healthy workplace,” said Liou, who is also director of program planning and development at Asian Health Services, an Oakland community health center.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

 

Remove dangerous chemicals in hair and nail salons

An well designed, industrial-strength air purifier can help remove the toxic fumes and odors that may affect the workers and clients at salons and spas.

Electrocorp offers air cleaners that were specifically designed for hair and nail salons, with a deep-bed activated carbon and HEPA filter as well as source capture attachments for the best protection.

Contact Electrocorp to ask about customizable air purifiers for nail salons and spas, such as the CleanBreeze 2 or the CleanBreeze 3.

Working with nail polish every day could lead to serious health effects,
experts warn.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Summertime is sandal time and one of the busiest times of year for the thousands of nail salons across North America.

The clipping, filing and polishing industry has become a popular venture.

In Canada’s Toronto alone, residents can pick from 1,152 spots to get their nails done. The state of New York has approximately 4,100 nail salons.

But while most clients see their occasional manicure and pedicure as a treat and an occasion to relax, the technicians servicing their nails are exposed to dangerous organic solvents and harsh chemicals emitted by nail polishes and nail products.

The biggest health threats come from chemicals such as formaldehyde, acetone, toluene and dibutyl phthalate.

Some of the reported health effects include

  • Asthma
  • Rashes
  • Damage to the reproductive system
  • Effects to sexual organ development in male fetuses

Experts suggest different tactics to minimize the risks to employees. For example, using spring-loaded bottles for polish remover to reduce the amount of escaping vapors, installing tilted and ventilated tables, using healthier polish brands and high-quality particle masks, updating the ventilation system to remove odors and chemicals and raising awareness among nail technicians.

One of the problems is that many workers in nail salons are recent immigrants from China or Vietnam, who may be too afraid to complain about health problems, researchers say.

Have you ever been affected by the fumes or smells in nail salons and spas? Tell us about it!

Source: The Globe and Mail

Clean the air in spas and nail salons

Air cleaners for nail salons:
5000 and 6000 Salon

When a full HVAC update or renovation project is beyond a nail salon’s budget, individual air cleaners with activated carbon and HEPA can help remove dangerous particles, chemicals and odors.

Electrocorp has developed a range of air cleaners for beauty salons and spas that feature some of the largest adsorbent surface areas for gases and fumes and the longest-lasting and most efficient filters available on the market.

The 5000 and 6000 Salon air purifiers, for example, are also equipped with a source capture attachment that can be positioned right above the working area, so that harmful chemicals and fumes as well as fine particles are removed right at the source, before they become airborne.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

News and research

Health and safety measures are a must to protect workers and the company itself.

A company is learning a hard lesson about the importance of health and safety: It faces 12 citations for safety violations after a worker died and another was hospitalized in November.

The workers were overcome by fumes from toluene, a toxic chemical.

According to OSHA, the men did not wear any respiratory protection while working with toluene and they were exposed to higher levels than allowed.

The company specializes in coating production and microscreens and uses toluene, a clear and colorless liquid, as a solvent.

The small company failed to monitor toluene air concentrations, adjust ventilation systems when working with toluene, control ignition sources, come up with a hazard communication program, offer worker training on the hazards of coating material and implement other safety measures.

The company can respond to the complaint and defend itself.

Source: Wisconsin State Journal

Control airborne chemicals and fumes with air cleaners

Part of a comprehensive health and safety program includes the use of air cleaners to mitigate risks of chemical and toxic exposures.

Electrocorp has designed portable and attachable air cleaners for a wide range of commercial and industrial applications.

Featuring some of the largest adsorbent surface areas for gaseous pollutants and the most available options and customizations, the air cleaners can remove harmful chemicals, fumes, gases, odors, particles, dust and pathogens with a complete activated carbon + HEPA filtration system.

Contact Electrocorp for more information or options.

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