Nail Care Workers: Leave Your Surgical Masks At Home

In the healthcare community, when a worker wears a surgical mask the patient is being told that an effort is being made to prevent germs from infecting them. But when a nail technician wears one, it makes most customers uncomfortable as it suggests that the air they are breathing is unclean and unsafe. This is likely true.

Prompted by years of complaints from workers about job-related illnesses, the state of New York passed new measures protecting nail salon personnel and their clientele. “This is an industry where workers have long been prone to exploitation and unsafe working conditions – and these regulations are the latest step to right these wrongs and help ensure [that] employees across New York are treated fairly and with dignity,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. (1)

Of course, indoor air quality (IAQ) in the beauty trade is not a new topic. Hair and nail salon employees have long suffered the effects of VOC emissions in their places of work. Many of the ingredients in nail care products evaporate easily into the atmosphere (3) causing vapors and dusts to release into the air. For nail techs, whose faces are within inches of the toxic source, all day long, there are significant health risks to such exposures. (2)

The products used at any given time will depend on the nail services being provided. This, in turn, will ultimately determine what harmful matter will be released. However, there are a few substances that are almost always present in the nail shop. Dibutyl, Formaldehyde and Toluene – commonly referred to, within the industry, as the “toxic trio” – are chronic offenders. (4) Together, and individually, these compounds (found in polishes, removers, glues and hardeners) are responsible for symptoms that include nausea, liver damage, and countless respiratory illnesses. Formaldehyde is a proven carcinogen.

Despite the health hazards that loom, nail salon workers and patrons needn’t lose heart. Much, if not all, contamination can be eliminated with conscientious safety measures. OSHA recommends various steps to improve worker health in nail salons, steps that include air cleaners and ventilation equipment, including portable units to be used at the source. (4)

At Air Systems Inc, we have been cleaning the air you breathe since 1982. In 2005, we developed our Salon Pure Air line of equipment, specifically with the nail salon community in mind. For superior systems and products, please contact an AIRSInc specialist today for a free and thorough clean air analysis. (5)