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chemicals (EMA, toluene, DBP, etc.) in their nail products. This fund could support research and development of less toxic or toxic-free nail product alternatives. Collected fees could also be used to help nail salon owners defray the costs of purchasing and maintaining ventilation systems adequate to protect workers and customers from harmful chemicals that manufacturers continue to use in nail products.

More research is needed to better understand the hazards associated with chemicals in nail products (both individually and in combination with each other), how products could be reformulated to be safer, and what alternative products could replace those that are unsafe.


  • Ban toluene, dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde, EMA and other specific “bad actor” chemicals from nail products.

  • Explore the feasibility of a program that would dis-incentivize the use of bad actor chemicals in nail salon products and would result in generating funds to assist owners with ventilation expenses and/or to finance research into safer chemical and product alternatives.

  • Request that California agencies, for instance, the Occupational Health Branch of the California DPH and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) of Cal- EPA, research and report on the health hazards associated with chemicals in nail salon products.

California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative

Improve ventilation technology and standards in nail salons.

Until we rid nail salon products of their hazardous ingredients, exhaust ventilation systems should be used in nail salons to better protect both workers and customers. Local exhaust ventilation, such as a vented table, is considered to be most effective because it captures and removes contaminants at their source (“source capture system”). In other words, the contaminants are removed before they reach a worker’s or consumer’s breathing space and are exhausted directly to the exterior of a building. NIOSH recommends the use of ventilated work tables by nail technicians when applying artificial fingernails.44 Beginning in January 2009, NIOSH is conducting a study of various vented tables to determine their relative efficiency, noise level, and other elements of good ventilation systems.45

Some jurisdictions such as Oregon are adopting more rigorous nail-salon ventilation standards. The 2007 Oregon Mechanical Specialty Code requires that a source capture system be installed at every manicure and pedicure station. This “source capture system” must be adequate to draw air away from manicurists and consumers with an exhaust rate of at least 50 cubic feet per minute (cfm) for intermittent exhaust at each station (during chemical use) and 20 cfm for continuous exhaust.46 Although there has been no study to determine the precise ventilation level or technology necessary to make the air in nail salons safe to breathe, it is useful to note that the International Code Council requires the same level (50 cfm) of exhaust in bathrooms, just for control of odors. Oregon’s ventilation standard is applied only to new salons or to existing salons that add new nail stations to their businesses.

Although in many ways vented or down-draft


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