Your Health: Occupational Exposures—Nail Salons, Lead and Asbestos

written by Nancy Hepp, MS
Research and Communications Specialist

Beginning with this post, these columns will be focused on one issue and will be posted as topics emerge rather than on a strict weekly schedule.

Exposure to chemicals, radiation, dust, heat and other stressors at work are a perennial concern. Recent items highlight some of the dangers in nail salons, e-waste recycling facilities and asbestos-related industries.

NailSalonsAndExposuresThe IAQ Video Network and Cochrane & Associates produced a brief video, Nail Salons & Chemical Exposure Concerns. The video describes how brief exposures to the chemicals found in nail and beauty products from occasional visits to a salon may not be of concern, but for hundreds of thousands of salon workers who are exposed for several hours and many days each week, attention needs to be directed toward reducing exposures. Identifying which chemicals are in products, using less hazardous products, improving ventilation and reducing chemical contact with skin can all reduce risks for workers.

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Exposing the Beastly Side of Beautiful Nails

written by Elise Miller, EdM

This past week something rather remarkable happened: First, the New York Times published two major investigative pieces on the pervasive exploitation and occupational health hazards experienced by workers in the nail salon industry. And then the really astonishing part—Governor Cuomo of New York issued emergency measures two days later to combat the horrendous inequities and toxic chemical exposures that manicurists face. Rarely do we see such swift, decisive government action in response to reports highlighting environmental and social injustices—and rarely do we see the convergence of evidence-based science, skilled health advocacy, first-rate journalism, and responsive government result in such an immediate, positive outcome. Of course it will take much longer yet for large scale changes that fully protect these workers to take place, but this is an impressive first step.

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