Nail Salon Workers Face Risk From Chemicals

A new study suggests that <"">unsafe levels of chemicals routinely used in nail salons could be harming the health of nail workers. The study was conducted by researchers at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California and Asian Health Services and was published in the American Journal of Public Health, wrote WebMD.

The study involved 80 participants, all Vietnamese women from 20 different salons—half located in Oakland, California—said WebMD. Toulene a solvent associated with “neurological, reproductive, and endocrine damage,” and other chemicals, including a chemical banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1974, were identified.

The workers wore a monitor that was attached to a shirt or collar and measured, during each of their shifts, concentrations of toluene, ethyl acetate, and isopropyl acetate, said WebMD. The average toluene levels were 0.15 parts per million (ppm), which is about twice the recommended amount for indoor air as deemed by the California Environmental Protection Agency, said the study, wrote WebMD. Samples taken from the monitors measured ambient air in three of the salons involved and revealed noteworthy levels of the banned chemical methyl methacrylate.

Salon workers also answered a questionnaire meant to identify health symptoms experienced on the job and revealed that complaints tended to involve eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation; shortness of breath; nausea; and coughing, said WebMD.

One-third reported irritations, headaches, nausea, and breathing issues upon entering the work place; irritations of the nose, throat, lungs, skin, and eyes were among the most prevalent symptoms reported by 26.5 percent of participants, said Medical News Today. “This really explains why we have been hearing from salon workers about the health problems that they have,” study researcher Thu Quach, PhD, MPH, said of the Vietnamese women, who comprise the majority of California salon workers, quoted WebMD.

Similar adverse health effect reports have been received, typically from Vietnamese salon workers, and from locations as diverse as the Pacific Northwest, Houston, and Boston. “It’s definitely a national issue,” says Julia Liou, MPH, manager of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, an organization founded in 2005 that responds to health and safety issues in California salon workers. “We’re concerned about their cumulative, chronic, and long-term health problems,” Liou noted, quoted WebMD. “I’m really very interested in following the long term health outcomes of these women,” Liou added, pointed out that this issue points to potential customer health issues.

“Our findings underscored the need for more attention to preventive public health strategies for his workforce. Recommendations to promote worker health and safety include policy changes to update occupational exposure limits that take into account various chronic health conditions, better regulatory oversight of chemicals in cosmetic products, and more research focused on the health of understudied and vulnerable worker populations,” said the study’s authors, quoted Medical News Today.

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