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Toxic exposure in nail salons must be properly managed

Manicures and pedicures are procedures that many people think of as pampering. For the salon workers who provide these services, staying safe while they work is a top priority that isn't always easy. Manicurists and pedicurists face very serious risks each day that they go to work.

One of the primary concerns for salon workers is the exposure to toxic chemicals. Think about the smell that comes off of nail polish and nail polish remover. Having to breathe those fumes day in and day out for full shifts can cause significant issues. Workers who give manicures and pedicures all day can get some protection by wearing masks and rebreathers, but this isn't always a safe or practical option.

Another issue that can occur because of these chemicals is the risk that occurs from having contact with them. Nail salon workers must wash their hands often to prevent germs, as well as remove chemicals from their hands. This frequent handwashing can often lead to cracked skin. Even if the cracks in the skin are very small, there is a chance that the chemicals used during the course of a day's work will enter the skin through the crack. This could lead to irritation and other issues. Wearing long sleeves and gloves might help to combat this to some degree.

It is sometimes possible for nail salons to choose products that don't contain the harsh chemicals, such as acetone, that can cause problems. This should happen when possible. If nail salon workers are exposed to hazardous substances, they should be provided with proper protections. Seeking compensation might be possible for workers who are harmed and who didn't have access to proper safety protections.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Stay Healthy and Safe While Giving Manicures and Pedicures: A Guide for Nail Salon Workers," accessed Dec. 21, 2016

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