Doug Schoon Responds to New York Times Exposé on Nail Salons:
“Unfortunately, this reporter distorted some important facts and didn’t properly quote me. I’m one of the world’s leading scientific experts on nails, nail salon products and services and have been a very vocal nail salon safety advocate for more than 25 years. I’ve written several books, hundreds of articles and videos on this subject and have traveled the world for many of those years providing nail salon safety focused presentations to nail technicians. So why would this reporter disregard most of what I told her? In my opinion, she had preconceived notions that she wanted to prove and that’s not fair reporting.
I asked her to help the nail industry with some important issue that needed to be addressed and I listed them and even offered some solutions. I urged her to use her upcoming NY Times article to show how these problems could be easily solved by getting industry, activists and government working together on the same page, which is the root of the issue. I promised that the nail industry would come to the table and asked her to help urge the activists to join with us to improve education and provide more safety information and training to nail technicians. The Nail Manufacturers Council on Safety (NMC) has been doing this for almost 20 years and last year offered to work with OSHA and the activist groups. As crazy as this sound the activists groups have refused and they continue stand in the way of progress. Fear-based activist groups don’t like to discuss facts and solutions, that’s the last thing they want when they’re trying to frighten people with misinformation.
I very much appreciated the first part of this 2-part article and thought it was extremely well written, but I’m disappointed in the second article. It entirely misses the big issues, by a very wide margin. I’ve studied nail industry issues for two decades and in my expert opinion, the best way to improve safety in salons is to increase nail technician education, provided fact-based information and to enforce the existing OSHA regulations The NY Times article fails because it misses these important points.
The article focuses on problems that are largely caused by misuse of the products, e.g. not following directions, not taking steps to avoid skin contact and not working in a well-ventilated area. These are the fundamental, basic requirements for working safely in a nail salon. Those that ignore their responsibility and do not follow directions and/or work in a unsafely manner may develop skin and respiratory irritations, which are early warning signs that the products are not being used or handled in a responsible fashion. I’ve personally talked and written about this for decades and this is a big part of my bi-weekly Internet video series, which focuses almost entirely on safety information for nail technicians. Information on how to work safely is readily available to nail professionals. If salon owners are discouraging safe working habits and conditions as the article claims, that sounds like an OSHA issue that should be addressed and I’d be happy to help in that effort. In my opinion, collaboration between OSHA and the NMC would surely bring about needed understandings and likely positive change, so I continue to hope this will happen someday and it is my hope that OSHA will consider working with the NMC’s group of world-class experts.
There is some important misinformation I wanted to point out. This reporter ignored my warnings that she had been deceived by fear-based activists groups concerning the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC) report t she is describing in her article. This wasn’t a safety issue at all! The chemicals she’s talking about were found in tiny trace amounts, hundreds or thousands of a percent. What did the DTSC say about these trace levels? They even said that the levels were “safe and this is not a safety issue”. The DTSC was ONLY concerned that the product labels said “xyz-free”, when they actually had a tiny trace, e.g. 0.0001%. The DTSC said that if you are going to say “free”, you should have be 0.0%, which I can understand their position. The reporter knew this was not a safety issue and that this issue occurred only with a few small brands of nail polish, but she still suggested that these manufacturers were producing unsafe products- which is clearly incorrect!
In addition, I’m pretty disappointed that she distorted my only quote. I didn’t say or suggest that no one is ever harmed by nail products. If you read what I said, you’ll see that’s not the case. Here’s what I actually said. The reporter claimed that nail polish was dangerous. I asked her how nail polish could be dangerous, if people aren’t being injured after more than 60 years of use. I told her that I personally didn’t know anyone who had been injured by nail polish and asked if any of her friends had been. I told her that I’ve not seen an epidemic of nail polish related injuries being admitted to hospitals or reported by doctors. All I have seen is deceptive claims and insinuations that claim nail polish is so-called “linked” to illnesses that have nothing to do with nail polish, e.g. lupus. I pointed out that since no one is being harmed and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that anyone is being harmed by “nail polish”; doesn’t this suggest there is no evidence of harm from nail polish? Of course, any reasonable person can see this is true. Where are all the injured, if nail polish is so harmful? It’s been used since the 30’s!
Notice the reporter only partially quotes me and then she swiftly changes the topic in the next sentence and introduces OSHA’s comments. OSHA is clearly talking about “artificial nail coating” type ingredients, not “nail polish”. Two completely different topics. This makes it appear like OSHA was disagreeing with me and they aren’t. Tricky, right! It is a bunch of baloney and not a fair representation of my opinions and the reporter knows this. So, I call foul! I suspect that if OSHA were asked if they were worried that people are being harmed by nail polish, they would agree with me that there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of harm from nail polish in the general public.
Here are the facts. The skin and inhalation-related problems would not occurred if, A). Skin contact was avoided, B). Hands were washed regularly, C). Proper and appropriate ventilation is used, D). Label instructions followed/warnings heeded. It’s not hard to work safely in a salon, if you choose to and you’re taught how. That’s the key. I’d like to work with anyone who is interested in teaching this information, but ultimately it’s up to nail technicians to care about safety. In my experience, too many don’t. I believe those who refuse to work safely or to use basic common sense, should not be performing these types of services. These are professional services that should be provided by trained professionals who work safely.
How can these salon issues be addressed unless everyone works together? I’ve asked the Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative (HNSC) many times over the years to work with the Nail Manufacturers Council on Safety, yet they refuse. Why? I’ve found that this group doesn’t want to address the real issues; instead they want to demonize the products.
The reason that I took the time to speak to this reporter is because I wanted her to truly understand the nail industry’s issues, hoping she could help. Instead, like many reporters before her, she’s been overly influenced by fear-based activists who use junk-science and misinformation to fool the scientifically naive reporters and well-meaning politicians. Of course, I do plan on speaking to her about my disappointment and explain how I believed she erred. I’m a patient optimist, so perhaps in the long run this article will eventually boomerang into something good for the industry and maybe this will convince more nail technicians of the importance of understanding the products and working safely.”
How to Improve Indoor Air Quality for Salons
Guidelines For Controlling And Minimizing Inhalation Exposure To Nail Products / English