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WebMD – Chemicals May Be Risky to Nail Salon Workers

Posted by 4love2love on June 16, 2011

To view more articles related to health and care, please visit WebMD.

Study: Workers Are Exposed to Unsafe Levels of the Chemical Toluene

By Matt McMillen 
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

May 5, 2011 — Harmful chemicals may be endangering the health of Vietnamese nail salon workers, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California and Asian Health Services report finding unsafe levels of toluene, a solvent linked to neurological, reproductive, and endocrine damage, and other chemicals, including one that has been banned by the FDA since 1974.

The study is published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The research team recruited 80 workers, all of whom were Vietnamese women, at 20 different salons — half of them in Oakland, Calif. — to participate in the study. Each of them wore a monitor attached to a shirt or coat collar. Over the course of each shift, the monitor would measure concentrations of toluene, ethyl acetate, and isopropyl acetate.

High Levels of Risky Chemical

The researchers found that the average toluene levels were 0.15 parts per million, nearly twice the amount recommended by the California Environmental Protection Agency for indoor air, according to the study.

In addition to the samples taken from the workers’ monitors, they also measured the ambient air in three of the salons being studied. They found notable levels of methyl methacrylate, which has been banned for decades.

Finally, the salon workers were given a questionnaire in which they were asked to identify any health symptoms they had experienced while working. The most frequent complaints common among salon workers included irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, shortness of breath, nausea, and coughing.

“This really explains why we have been hearing from salon workers about the health problems that they have,” study researcher Thu Quach, PhD, MPH, says of the Vietnamese women who make up most of the salon workforce in California.

While Quach’s study focused on workers in California, reports of adverse health effects among Vietnamese salon workers have been a concern in other parts of the country, including 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 to address the health and safety concerns among California salon workers. “We’re concerned about their cumulative, chronic, and long-term health problems.”

Nail salon workers may be at heightened risk of health problems because they are exposed to the chemicals on a daily basis. However, Quach points out, the toxins are in the nail care products, which means that customers are exposed as well, albeit to a much lesser extent.

In addition to the acute symptoms that salon workers suffer, Quach is concerned about potential long-term health risks.

“I’m really very interested in following the long term health outcomes of these women.”


© 2011 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


5 Responses to “WebMD – Chemicals May Be Risky to Nail Salon Workers”

  1. 4love2love said

    Thank you so much! I’m so glad you like it! There is more coming in the very near future. 🙂

  2. 4love2love said

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. WebMD is a valuable source of information regarding safety and health. I thought this one was particularly interesting considering we all know that there are countless salons in the country run mostly by Asians and it’s unfortunate that the chemicals involved are harming them.

  3. 4love2love said

    I think you’ve missed the point entirely. This is a repost from a WebMD article regarding some issues with safety for nail salon workers. I’m sorry you didn’t like the post but not only did I not write it, but there is no whining involved here. This is simply a health notice that warns salon workers about exposure to certain chemicals that can cause long-term health problems.

  4. 4love2love said

    Well I hope to see you back! 🙂 I’m adding a whole new area thanks to a friend of mine who deals with fashion you may want to keep an eye out for 🙂

  5. 4love2love said

    I always worry about the chemicals people use in nail and hair salons. Since it’s stuff you wouldn’t normally find in a store…. this is just an example of why I worry.

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