New York Times Article Brings to Light Health Issues for Nail Salon Workers

In a new article series titled “Unvarnished”, New York Times writer Sarah Maslin Nir examines the working conditions and potential health risks endured by nail salon workers.

In the her article “Perfect Nails, Poisoned Workers” the author delves into the many health issues nail salon workers face on a day to day basis.

One big hurdle nail technicians face is overexposure to nail salon product vapors and nail dust.  These two factors are the biggest threats to a worker’s respiratory health.  These vapors and dust are part of every day life for nail techs.  Many people in the industry don dust face masks as some level of protection but the sad truth is, these masks do provide some protection against dust inhalation, they provide no protection for  the chemical vapors.   The chemical vapors simply pass through the mask and into the wearer’s lungs.

But there is a solution!  A certain type of salon ventilation called “source capture” ventilation (also sometimes called local ventilation) uses a capture hood and hose to draw the vapors and dust out of the breathing zone of the nail tech and into the system, where a 3 stage filter system traps dusts and adsorbs chemical vapor using advanced HEPA and activated carbon technology enhanced with an energy field.  This type of filtration, referred to as “eHEPA” filtration is more effective than standard systems in adsorbing and decomposing harmful chemical nail vapors found in nail salons.

YOUTUBE BANNER LED WITH DUST

To read the entire article, head on over to the New York Times webpage

Healthy Air™ Slim Nails Source Capture Systems Meet Code Requirements for Nail Salon

Aerovex Systems with Healthy Air™  Technology is the first in the industry to meet building standards that require exterior ventilation. Healthy Air™  Technology is one of the most powerful and effective advanced air purification systems in the world that is uniquely designed to combine eHEPA technology with advanced activated carbon filtration, now with optional outside ventilation.

The system utilizes advanced eHEPA technology to capture submicron particles as well as microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, mold and fungi with efficiencies exceeding standard HEPA grade filters and kill these microorganisms at extremely high kill rates with the application of the energy field that permeates the filter. The system utilizes an advanced granular activated carbon filter in combination with the energy field to provide sufficient dwell tome to effectively adsorb and decompose VOC’s and odor.

nailpro

 

The Nail Source Capture System is an highly effective nail dust, vapor/odor and airborne pathogen source capture system. With 200 cfm of suction at the capture hood, the Healthy Air™ Nails Source Capture System provides 4 times the required airflow to remove and capture airborne nail dust, vapors/odors, and pathogens. Clean air is exhausted towards the floor with a quiet but powerful centrifugal motor.

An adapter is available to allow venting the unit to the outside.

Salon Building Codes

Aerovex Systems Healthy Air™ Nails Source Capture System meets and exceeds the new “Breathing Zone” Protection Regulatory Requirements.

With 200 cfm of suction at the capture hood, Healthy Air™ technology provides 4 times the required airflow to remove and capture airborne nail dust, vapors/odors, and pathogens. Clean air is exhausted towards the floor with a quiet but powerful centrifugal motor. An adaptor is available to allow venting the unit to the outside.

Nail Salon Ventilation Regulation Changes:

2012 International Mechanical Building Code (IMC) Table 403.3 (h)

(h) For nail salons, each nail station shall be provided with a source capture system capable of exhausting not less than 50 cfm per station.

Source Capture Change Significance:

Footnote “h” to Table 403.3 has been modified to require nail salons to have a source capture system at each nail station. Based on the definition of “Source Capture System”, the exhaust from a station in a nail salon is required to capture the air contaminants at their source and terminate them to the outdoor air.

The Nail Salon Industry is Booming

The nail salon industry is booming; the number of nail salon workers has tripled over the last ten years to more than 500,000 workers. Like drycleaners, nail salons are frequently located in store fronts or strip malls. Many times nail salons are built-out in previous occupied tenant space without adapting the HVAC system for the vast variety of chemicals used.

Headline: Nail Salon Chemicals Worry Health Officials!

Most nail salon workers are young females who work long days inhaling chemicals and also contact chemicals which are absorbed through the skin. In general, these chemicals are not regulated by the FDA and contain VOCs or solvents within the cosmetic products they apply or use to remove previously applied cosmetics. These vapors, as well as dusts, are generated close to the breathing zone of the workers and customers.

Inhalation exposure to these chemicals are proven to cause ocular and upper respiratory irritation and central nervous system effects such as headache, nausea, and dizziness. Source Capture Ventilation eliminates chemical vapor inhalation by exhausting the technicians breathing zone and prevents vapors and odors from escaping into the salon air or migrating into the air of adjacent tenants.

To avoid spreading chemical vapors to neighboring businesses, nail salons should not share the same ventilation system with another business and should be under negative air pressure in relation to adjacent spaces. To maintain negative pressure, the salon should exhaust slightly more air than is supplied so that any leakage of vapors will not enter adjacent businesses.

 

 

1. Right-to-know training for workers to communicate the risk of products used. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) must be reviewed by ownership with their employees and copies maintained on-site.

2. Substitution of less toxic, volatile products during purchasing. 30 states have restricted or banned the use of liquid methyl methacrylate monomer; an ingredient used in some artificial nail products.

3. Providing adequate general ventilation of at least 25 CFM outside air per person in the work space. The nail salon must not share a common HVAC system or duct work with another tenant space.

4. *Installation of source capture ventilation systems at the manicure and pedicure stations. Special attention must also be focused on where products are mixed. A whole room salon air purifier designed specifically to remove salon vapors/odors and nail dust should be used to cleanse the salon air.

5. Installation of filters designed specifically to remove formaldehyde and other salon vapors and dusts from the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning system are strongly recommended. A building’s ventilation system, whether in a strip mall or a stand-alone structure, is called the HVAC system. This stands for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning. This is your first line of attack. The HVAC system brings fresh air to the salon and pushes it from one room to another.

To avoid spreading chemical vapors to neighboring businesses, nail salons should not share the same ventilation system with another business and should be under negative air pressure in relation to adjacent spaces. To maintain negative pressure, the salon should exhaust slightly more air than is supplied so that any leakage of vapors will not enter adjacent businesses.

 

 

This system needs to be professionally maintained by a specialist. The specialist will change the filters, and properly balance and clean the system every year. An HVAC system removes mold, mildew, dust, etc., providing relatively fresh air to a building. Most salons are only using residential, standard HVAC fiberglass filters, which are inadequate for the removal of salon specific chemical vapors and dust. Special Salon HVAC filters are available which have an increased dust holding capacity and are composed of rinse-able layers of electrostatic polypropylene grids that collect and trap dust. Designed specifically for salons these filters are composed of an interchangeable activated carbon panels which captures and removes salon specific chemical vapors. Source capture ventilation, room air purifiers and HVAC filters designed specifically for removing salon vapors, mists and dusts have been developed and are highly effective for improving salon air quality.

6. Dispensing products in small containers with openings just large enough for the application brush. Keep lids on product containers sealed during non-use.
7. Discarding waste properly and promptly. Chemical-soaked gauze pads and cotton balls should be placed in a sealed bag before dispensing of them in a metal trash can. The lid should be self-closing and the trash can liner changed at least daily. Proper storage of chemicals.

8. Frequent washing of hands. Nitrile safety gloves should be worn that are resistant to solvents. Latex gloves do not protect against solvent exposure.

9. Good personal hygiene by workers including no eating, drinking or smoking at their work stations or near stored chemicals.

10. Checking the pressure differential between the nail salon and adjacent tenant space. The nail salon should be at negative pressure in relation to the adjacent space. Walls separating the salon from other business should have no holes, gaps and cracks (including above the drop ceiling).

11. Reviewing ventilation discharge points from the nail salon for potential re-circulation of solvent vapors in adjacent tenant HVAC systems or windows/doors.

12. Disposal of unwanted nail polish, waste acetone and other solvent/chemical waste products as hazardous waste. Acetone and other waste products must not be poured down the sink or toilet or put into general trash.

*According to internationally known salon industry scientist and chemist, Doug Schoon:
“If you are working with a source capture ventilation system (SCV); you don’t want or need to use a face mask. Even a high quality, properly fitting N-95 dust mask won’t work as well as a source capture ventilation system. Why? When properly fitted, an N-95 dust mask WILL protect against inhalation of tiny airborne dust particles, but NOT vapors. SCV systems prevent exposure by collecting both dusts and vapors- keeping both out of the nail technician’s breathing zone and salon air.

When properly maintained and the carbon filters are changed regularly, SCV systems are a great way to help ensure salon air quality remains safe and everyone is breathing comfortably during working hours. Several dust collecting systems are great too and in general, I do recommend their use in salons. Even so, dust collection systems should be used in conjunction with another ventilation system which lowers exposure to vapors. Both dusts and vapors must be properly controlled. SVC systems do both, which is why I fully support their use in salons.”
LANDLORDS….
Acetone, other nail polish removers and nail polishes are flammable. The aforementioned controls are also essential to minimize potential fire hazards. Fire department regulations vary from city to city including how much flammable liquid you are allowed to store at your business and if you are required to store flammables in a fireproof cabinet.