Unexpectedly high levels of dangerous chemicals have been detected in nail salons

The first impact assessment of chemicals among nail salon technicians in Canada found an unexpectedly high exposure to several chemicals used as plasticizers and flame retardants.

A recent study by the University of Toronto in collaboration with the Parkdale Queen West Community Heath Center and the Healthy Nail Salons Network found that manicurists in discounted salons are exposed to several chemicals that are widely used as plasticizers and flame retardants.

A study to be published today (February 14, 2022) in the Journal Environmental Science and Technologyfound that exposure to certain hazardous chemicals was higher among manicure technicians than among e-waste workers.

“We were very surprised to find that exposure to certain chemicals was 30 times higher than that of nail salons compared to exposure at home, and up to 10 times higher than in e-waste recycling facilities,” said Miriam Diamond, co-author. and professor. at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Toronto.

Jackie Liang works at a Toronto nail salon

Jackie Liang works at a Toronto nail salon. Author: Giovanni Ramos and Proven Yoganathan

The study reported higher exposure to several phthalate plasticizers, which was expected given the use of these chemicals in personal care products. One phthalate plasticizer, DEHP, which is not approved for use in cosmetics under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, has been found to be low. “Detecting the low impact of the DEHP plasticizer is important – it shows that the current rules for this compound work,” Diamond said.

However, it was unexpected to find some high levels of flame retardants, which are not known to be used in personal care products.

Victoria Arandale

Professor Victoria Arandale, Dala Lana School of Public Health. Credit: Dala Lana School of Public Health

Some of the chemicals studied have some restrictions on their use (or restrictions are proposed) under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. However, most of these chemicals are not regulated directly in Ontario jobs. The specific source of these chemicals in nail salons was not identified in this study.

These chemicals have been linked to adverse health effects, including neurological and reproductive effects, with some evidence that intrauterine exposure may be important.

“Nail artisans are concerned about the impact of their work on their bodies, including concerns about the reproductive, respiratory, skin and musculoskeletal system over the years,” said Victoria Arandale, co-author and associate professor at the University of Toronto. Dala Lana School of Public Health.

Despite these fears, nail masters enjoy the skill and personal care that comes with their work.

“This study shows us that our federal government needs to make sure that the products used in nail salons are safer for both customers and manicurists,” said Wang Tran, a manicurist and manicure educator. salons Parkdale Queen West Community Health. Center.

This study highlights the need to consider a wide range of workplace settings when regulating the use of chemicals in Canada. The study authors urge government and product manufacturers to make safer personal care products and safer places for workers and customers in the personal services sector.

“We are proud of our work and we would like our workplaces to be safer,” said Jackie Liang, a manicure technician and health worker at Parkdale Queen West Public Health Center.

Information: February 14, 2022, Environmental Science and Technology.

The study was conducted jointly by researchers from the University of Toronto, the Center for Occupational Cancer Research, the Center for Occupational Disease Examination and the Parkdale Queen West Public Health Center. The aim of the study was to better understand the dangers of the workplace in discount nail salons. This study is funded by the Ministry of Labor Training and Skills Development Research Program. Unexpectedly high levels of dangerous chemicals have been detected in nail salons

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