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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


Chemical fumes exposure can lead
to headaches, nausea and shortness of breath.
Image: FreeDigitalPhotos

Indoor air quality has become increasingly important in the workplace as companies have come to understand how poor indoor ventilation can affect work performance.

Over the past two weeks, three American companies have been hit with various chemical scares leading to several employees falling sick.

A contractor for the Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico cleaned the handrails in the caves one night.  When employees arrived at work the next day, the product’s fumes were still so powerful that employees fell ill, leading to the closure of the caves for two days.

In Florida, a mortgage company had to evacuate its 12 employees from the offices after people started complaining of headaches and scratchy throats. The culprit? Cleaning products. A Tampa HAZMAT team determined that the chemicals for the cleaning products were mixed at too concentrated a level.

In Hawaii, a United States Postal Service employee was sent to the hospital after experiencing shortness of breath and nausea. He had handled a parcel which contained a chemical that had leaked through the box. Tests indicated the chemical is often used to make cleaning products.

Source: The Associated Press, Fox 13, HawaiiNewsNow


Protecting your employees

Even companies that do not produce chemicals use them for regular cleaning. When dealing with closed spaces, it is particularly important to have good ventilation.  Putting your employees at risk leads to more work-related absenteeism and possible serious injury.

The first thing companies should invest in is a different selection of cleaning agents. Cleaning products are made with various chemicals, such as xylene, toluene and phenol and side effects can range from headaches to death. Using more green products will help avoid workplace chemical exposure.

The 5000 series is ideal for office spaces

Having an air cleaner in areas where chemicals are mixed or used is strongly suggested. For situations such as in the Carlsbad Caverns, an air cleaner should be left on overnight after chemical application. Office kitchens, where chemicals might be mixed, should also have an air cleaner to help mitigate chemical fumes as well as kitchen odors.

Electrocorp’s 5000 series contains an 18 pound carbon filter, a medical-grade HEPA filter and its wheels make it easily maneuverable. Check out our air cleaners for officesfor more details.

Would you like to speak to one of our IAQ experts? Call us toll free at 1-866-667-0297 or write us on our website.

Have you had a chemical scare at work? Share your stories with us!

Toxic chemicals from contaminated soil can find their way inside homes and affect the residents.

Whenever homes, schools or other buildings are constructed on top of previously contaminated land, toxic chemicals and gases may find their way inside, where they can affect people’s health and well-being.

This is supposedly what happened in a Scottish neighborhood near Glasgow.

Built on a site that was used by industrial plants from the 1940s until the 1970s, homes that were tested showed high levels of toxic chemicals in the ambient air.

The toxins were

  • Trichloroethylene (an industrial solvent)
  • Tetrachloroethylene (dry-cleaning fluid)
  • Polychlorinated biphenols
  • Polyaromatic carbons

The air inside 25 homes was tested in June and July 2011 and found levels of the chemicals at much higher levels than deemed acceptable by WHO standards. Apart from the high levels of chemicals, experts also worried about the mixture of toxins people are exposed to.

One family moved away after the wife developed nose bleeds, headaches and nausea a few years after moving there.

The family is suing the landlord over the toxic fume exposure in a test case that may be of interest to more than 40 families living in the area.

The plaintiffs allege that a required remediation of the place did not take place.

The chemicals in question have been linked to irritations, Parkinson’s disease, cancer and developmental disorders.

Source: The Scotsman

Air cleaners for vapor intrusion and environmental concerns

Soil vapor intrusion is a common concern in buildings atop contaminated sites, and the right air cleaners with deep-bed activated carbon filters can help reduce gaseous pollutants inside those homes.

Electrocorp, an industry leader in air cleaners for commercial and industrial applications, works with environmental consultants to help improve the indoor air quality in single- and double-family dwellings.

The air cleaners from Electrocorp feature some of the largest adsorbent surface areas, and the company also offers more than 40 different carbon types and blends to address specific chemical concerns.

The air cleaners are portable, affordable and long-lasting, and the carbon filters can be refilled according to need.

Contact Electrocorp for more information.

Manhattan was engulfed in a cloud of toxic dust after the collapse of the World Trade Center, scientists claimed.

A senior chemist got her job back at the EPA after she said she was let go in retaliation for accusing the agency of underestimating the danger of the dust at ground zero.

An administrative board ruled in her favor, saying she was not informed of all the charges against her when she was fired in 2010.

The chemist sued under the federal whistle-blower protection act, saying that the agency fired her for accusing them for relying on data that it knew measured the wrong pH levels of the dust released by the World Trade Center collapse in 2001.

The EPA said it fired her for threatening a supervisor. The chemist had a record of disagreeing with colleagues and supervisors and was suspended for two days in 2009.

Now that the chemist was reinstated with back pay, the EPA is free to bring charges against her again.

The particles released by the towers’ collapse were more toxic to workers’ lungs that experts thought.

The collapse shot up a cloud of unknown gases, chemicals and particulates into the Manhattan area, which also may have contained asbestos fibers.

Source: New York Times

Want to know more about workers’ health and safety issues and indoor air quality? Electrocorp specializes in portable and powerful air cleaners for commercial and industrial applications. The filtration system of activated carbon and HEPA can remove pollutants such as airborne chemicals, gases, fumes, odors, particles, dust, fibers, mold, bacteria and viruses. Contact Electrocorp for more information.

New analysis calls for more proactive role of reproductive health specialists

Doctors can help produce healthier future generations.

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) say that Ob-gyns could play a major role in reducing the effects of toxic chemicals on women and babies.

They could do this with a multifaceted approach:

  • Evaluating patients’ environmental exposures to chemicals
    This includes occupational exposures to chemicals and solvents
  • Providing education
    How to reduce exposure to chemicals at home, in the community and at work
    This information could be incorporated into childbirth classes, distributed through brochures and fliers and personal consultations
  • Help in implementing broader strategies to influence government policy
    Work with professional organizations to bring about policy change and within their institutions for better food models, for example
    Air pollution is a big risk that cannot be controlled on the individual level

Every individual is exposed to a wide range of natural and synthetic chemicals, and the number has risen dramatically over the past 70 years, the researchers say.

Environmental pollution a widespread problem

Virtually all pregnant women in the US carry multiple chemicals, including some that had been banned since the 1970s and others that can be found in common household products like non-stick cookware, processed foods and personal care products.

The problem is that more and more studies show that even low exposures to environmental chemicals can affect reproductive and developmental health.

The chemicals are a particular concern before and during pregnancy, when exposures have been linked to a number of health problems, the researchers say.

Just by making patients aware and talking about certain risk factors and ways to reduce exposure could help produce healthier future generations.

The researchers warned that the majority of chemicals used for commercial purposes enter the marketplace without being tested or standardized, and they could be very harmful for fetuses and infants in the developing stages.

Source: UCSF

Control the indoor air quality with air cleaners

Whether it’s in health-care settings, at home or at work, indoor air quality is something that can be controlled or improved.

Electrocorp offers portable and powerful air cleaners with a multistage filtration system that can remove the widest range of indoor air pollutants, including harmful chemicals or volatile organic compounds, gases, bacteria, viruses, molds, particles, dust and allergens.

The air cleaners’ filtration system contains deep-bed activated carbon filters, HEPA filters, pre-filters and optional UV germicidal filtration.

Electrocorp has developed high-quality air cleaners for healthcare settings, for a variety of workplaces (including offices, chemical processing plants, dental labs, bars and restaurants and beauty salons and spas) and also offers air purifiers for the home.

For more information, please contact Electrocorp today.

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