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Recorded at IOHA 2018
The nail care industry is a fast-growing industry in South Africa. The formal nail sector comprises of nail salons that are licensed and registered, while the informal nail sector are nail salons that are not licensed or registered. The different methods used during treatments of natural and artificial nails are all associated with potential health hazards. Research in this area has been conducted internationally but little has been done in South Africa. Working with natural and artificial nails involves the use of solvents such as acetone, ethyl acetate, and n-butyl acetate. Nail polish potentially contains formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and toluene. Artificial nail applications make use of acrylic polymers and monomers like methyl methacrylate (MMA) and ethyl methacrylate (EMA). Exposure to these chemicals is associated with health effects such as skin and eye irritation, respiratory tract irritation, and neurological and reproductive health effects.
Nail salon workers are exposed to many hazards (e.g., chemical, biological, ergonomic) that may lead to adverse health effects. Since many are immigrants working as independent contractors, they may not benefit from labor regulations afforded to permanent citizens/employees. The Michigan Health Nail Salon Cooperative (MHNSC) has mounted a multifaceted effort to promote health and safety in nail salons. Our group includes IH students and faculty at the University of Michigan (UM), undergraduates in the UM Vietnamese Student Association, and members of the NGO Workplace Health Without Borders (US Chapter). To date, our efforts include: personal air sampling, visits to 35 local salons, and focus groups to identify the workers' concerns and training needs. We have developed brochures spanning several topics (e.g., fungus) because of these focus groups. For this presentation, we report on our latest effort to develop and pilot an online module to train nail salon workers on chemical exposure and safety.
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