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Nail Salon Worker Exposure (IOHA 2018 OnDemand)

Recorded at IOHA 2018

Earn 1 Contact Hour

The purpose of this study was to estimate the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) levels of nail polishes used in nail salons through simulating the nail polish application process in a laboratory chamber. Worst case scenario was defined as the worker exposure to nail polish application to one set of fingernails every 15 minutes for an 8-hr. shift and simulated on paper plates in a flow-controlled chamber. Five different nail polishes were sampled for 8 hours using a passive air sampler. Of a total 81 VOCs analyzed, 8 VOCs (1-butyl alcohol, acetone, butyl acetate, ethyl acetate, ethyl alcohol, isopropyl acetate, isopropyl alcohol, and n-propyl acetate) were found in all samples. The arithmetic mean concentration of butyl acetate exceeded the Threshold Limit Value (TLV) of 150 ppm in all nail polish types. The arithmetic mean concentration of ethyl acetate was found to be 440 ppm (TLV = 400 ppm) in one type of nail polish. Formaldehyde was analyzed separately, and the arithmetic mean concentration exceeded the TLV of 0.10 ppm in all nail polish types.

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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