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New York requires nail salon ventilation to protect workers

Businesses have five years to comply

by Jessica Morrison
July 28, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 31

Credit: Shutterstock
All nail salons in New York must meet the new ventilation standard to protect workers by October 2021.
Photo shows nail salon worker painting the fingernails of a client.
Credit: Shutterstock
All nail salons in New York must meet the new ventilation standard to protect workers by October 2021.

New York is requiring nail salons to meet ventilation standards designed to protect workers from hazardous chemicals wafting from polish and other nail products.

Common components of polishes, polish removers, and nail hardeners include acetone, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, benzene, formaldehyde, and methylene chloride, the New York State Department of Health says in a report. Exposure to these substances has been linked to health problems, says the report, which was released in conjunction with new state regulations for nail salon ventilation.

Some potential short-term effects of exposure to these compounds include headaches, nausea, and skin irritation, the report says. Long-term exposure can affect the liver, kidneys, and nervous system.

The health department identified some 30 hazardous chemicals commonly found in nail products. Some of these, including acetone and toluene, were found to be elevated in salons when compared with nonindustrial settings such as homes and offices. In the report, the health department notes that its chemical list is not exhaustive because product formulations change frequently and bottles are often mislabeled.

Starting in October, new nail salons in the state must meet the standard, which requires ventilation that exhausts vapors, fumes, dust, and other air contaminants from nail salon workstations. Existing nail salons will have until October 2021 to meet the standard.

The state regulation follows a 2015 exposé by the New York Times that revealed substandard working conditions for nail salon employees.


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