Along with the questionable labor practices that surround the shops, nail technicians also face risks at work from glues, lacquers, and dust.
That workplace exposure to adhesive and polish chemicals can be a serious risk as the nation’s 375,000 nail technicians buff, lacquer, and file our fingers and toes. However, it’s not simply the quantity of those substances that might make them harmful; it’s also how they enter the bodies of employees.
Workplace circumstances in some nail salons, as brilliantly described in an investigation by Sarah Maslin Nir of The New York Times last week, can either lessen or worsen these problems. Each of the chemicals included in glues, removers, polishes, and salon products—to which technicians are frequently exposed in close quarters and in poorly ventilated areas—can be dangerous. However, when combined, they can perhaps be considerably more harmful. But because existing analyses do not fully consider these molecules, it is challenging to know how these chemicals affect the body. There aren’t many studies that examine the effects of each chemical separately on nail technicians.
There are various dangers: When nails are filed, dust shavings that may contain chemicals from the lacquer or acrylics can fall to the ground like pollen and irritate the skin or be breathed. Additionally, the shop’s chemicals could emit dangerous vapors or mists that technicians could inhale. Additionally, the substances could get into workers’ eyes. Additionally, these chemicals might be ingested while consuming food or beverages or smoking a cigarette during a break.
A long list of substances that nail salon employees come into contact with on a daily basis is listed by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which establishes workplace safety guidelines. These chemicals might not seem dangerous to the average nail salon patron, but there is a higher level of risk for the staff who are exposed to this potentially hazardous mixture every day. Studies describing the health difficulties of nail technicians frequently mention musculoskeletal, respiratory, and skin conditions. Unsurprisingly, respiratory issues were frequently reported as exposures at work, such as poor air quality. Some of these substances have also been connected to birth abnormalities. However, much like with many environmental exposures, it might be challenging to demonstrate that a negative health outcome was caused directly by a workplace.
By providing specific safety gear, nail salons could aid in worker protection. Wearing nitrile gloves, rather than latex or vinyl, according to public health officials, may help protect employees against chemical exposures. It would also be beneficial to use a suitable mask to shield workers from chemicals or nail-filing dust. However, paper dust masks (such those that are most frequently found in salons) only shield the wearer from some dusts and not from chemicals. Additionally, a nail salon with good airflow would normally not require staff to wear heavy-duty respirator masks with organic vapor cartridges.
This transparent, colorless liquid is a constituent of crude oil. Additionally, it is frequently found in nail polish and fingernail glue. High concentrations of this drug in a brief period of time can make you feel faint, woozy, or sleepy. Significant exposures can cause irritation to the eyes, throat, and lungs, as well as harm to the nervous system. According to studies, pregnant women exposed to high doses of the drug may experience birth abnormalities, slowed growth, and impaired mental development. Toluene dosage: how much is too much? A 200 ppm toluene limit has been established by OSHA for an eight-hour work shift. However, California has set its own limit at 10 ppm toluene for the same time period. However, air monitoring is the only way to determine whether a workplace exceeds these standards. Even at levels below the OSHA standard, humans can still smell toluene; if they are unable to do so, it may be that their noses have grown accustomed to it. However, air monitoring is the only way to determine whether a workplace exceeds these standards. Even at levels below the OSHA standard, humans can still smell toluene; if they are unable to do so, it may be that their noses have grown accustomed to it.
Nail hardener and nail polish both contain this ingredient. According to studies, it can lead to cancer. Additionally, it can irritate the eyes, skin, and throat, causing coughing fits, allergic responses, episodes that resemble asthma, or breathing problems. OSHA informs workers that they can avoid breathing in these fumes by donning half-mask respirators with chemical cartridges. Because this drug has been demonstrated to reduce performance on tests even at low concentrations (like 0.1 to 0.5 part per million), it can irritate the nose and eyes.
4. Howeveryl Phthalate
Small amounts of this chemical are included in nail polish and polish hardener, and it is frequently used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastics. On the long-term effects of the toxin on Americans, there is little conclusive information. OSHA cautions that exposure in people might make them feel sick and irritate their eyes and respiratory systems. The effects on animals are significantly more worrisome because oral exposure to this man-made toxin in rodents was found to interfere with development and reproduction: The issues included reduced fetal birth weight, fewer viable litters, and birth abnormalities in mice. It is categorized as a human reproductive and developmental toxin by the state of California.
5. Methacrylate Substances
The primary component of synthetic fingernails is ethyl methacrylate (EMA). Both nail technicians and customers may experience problems with the chemical, which can lead to rashes, allergies, and asthma. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health advises applying artificial fingernails at a ventilated workstation to avoid that risk. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) encourages employees removing fake nails to wear protective eyewear, long sleeve shirts, and gloves to shield their skin from acrylic dust.
It is still difficult to completely avoid these chemicals. According to their labels, several nail products that are marketed as “3-free” are free of toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate. However, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control’s analysis of several of these goods reveals that these labels are frequently false. Primers with the “acid free” designation frequently additionally state that they are free of substances like methacrylate acid.
Unfortunately, there are additional dangers for workers to be concerned about. By bending over or remaining in the same slumped position for extended periods of time, nail technicians risk developing aches and pains. Additionally, while filing and polishing, they run the risk of contracting an illness from coming into touch with a client’s blood, skin, or nails. Masks and gloves for protection can also assist keep workers safe in this situation. Therefore, the next time you have a manicure or pedicure, take a peek around to see if the staff members are wearing gloves and masks and if the tables appear to be aired. Even though not everything will be visible to the naked eye, it will at least provide you some early cues. Also, if staff are not safeguarded, you might choose to visit another salon.