Workplace Chemical Exposure Serious Concern in Nail Care Industry

Exposure to chemicals is an issue in almost every type of industry there is – from waiting tables to plastics manufacturing.
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The toxicity of those chemicals varies, of course, as does the level of exposure. However, our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers are careful to point out that some occupations not normally viewed as hazardous can be quite dangerous when the element of chemical exposure is considered.

One of the best examples of this is the work of nail care technicians. A recent publication was released by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, detailing the workplace dangers to which nail care workers are routinely exposed. At the top of the list are chemical hazards, followed by chronic aches and pains and then biological hazards. It’s worth noting that many nail care salon workers are immigrants, and thus may not fully recognize all of their rights under the law. Acute or chronic illnesses resulting from workplace hazards or conditions is never acceptable and all workers in the U.S. have a right to be protected.

In nail salons, there are numerous nail products that contain a broad range of potentially dangerous chemicals. Products such as polishes, removers, strengtheners and artificial nail liquids are often the most potent. While it’s generally considered safe for customers to sit through a session with exposure to some of these chemicals, the nail technicians are exposed repeatedly and at high concentrations. Skin irritations, allergic reactions, breathing difficulties and other serious ailments may arise as a result.

Some of the nail salon chemicals identified as the most hazardous include:

  • Acetone, found in nail polish remover, is associated with dizziness, headaches and irritated eyes, nose, throat and skin.
  • Acetonitrile, found in fingernail glue remover, can cause breathing problems, irritation to the nose and throat, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.
  • Butyl acetate, found in polish and polish remover, can cause headaches and eye/nose/throat/skin irritations.
  • Dibutyl phthalate, found in nail polish, has been associated in the short-term with nausea and irritation of the eyes, skin, nose, throat and mouth. Long-term exposure may have even more serious side effects.
  • Ethyl acetate, found in polish, polish remover and fingernail glue, can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, mouth, stomach and throat. It has been known to cause fainting when exposed in high concentrations.
  • Ethyl methacrylate, found in artificial nail liquids, can not only result in topical irritation but also in difficulty concentration. Exposure during pregnancy has been associated with problems that could affect the baby.
  • Formaldehyde, found in nail polish and nail hardeners, is associated with extreme breathing difficulty, allergic reactions and even cancer.
  • Mathyl mathacrylate, banned in North Carolina and 37 other states, has been associated with loss of smell.
  • Quaternary ammonium compounds, found in disinfectants, has been shown to cause asthma.
  • Toleune, found in fingernail glue and nail polish, has been associated with damage to the lungs, liver, kidneys and unborn children.

Workplaces can help to reduce the risk by ensuring proper ventilation, proper chemical storage and handling, thorough sanitation practices and the use of appropriate respiratory protection devices, such as masks.

North Carolina nail salon workers who have suffered from a serious ailment or illness as a result of exposure to chemicals at work may have a right to workers’ compensation.

If you have been injured at work in Charlotte, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Stay Health and Safe While Giving Manicures and Pedicures, A Guide for Nail Salon Workers, September 201 OSHA

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