According to a new study, Vietnamese nail salon workers are exposed to high levels of chemical that can be harmful for the health. The study published in the American Journal of Public Health shows that these workers are exposed to unsafe levels of toluene, a solvent associated with a number of neurological, endocrine and reproductive health issues. They are also exposed to a number of other chemicals including one that has been banned by the FDA.
In this study 80 Vietnamese nail salon workers, mostly from Oakland, California, were recruited. All the participants were given with a monitor to attach to the collar for measuring the concentrations of toluene, ethyl acetate and isopropyl acetate.
The results showed that the average level of toluene was 0.15 parts per million, which is nearly two times the amount recommended by the California Environmental Protection Agency for indoor air. In addition to the measure obtained from the monitor, the researchers also measured the amount in the ambient air from three salons in the study. The air contained high levels of methyl methacrylate, a chemical banned for decades.
The participants answered a questionnaire related to the health symptoms they experienced while working. Most of the participants complained about irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and skin, shortness of breath, nausea and cough. Study researcher Thu Quach, PhD, MPH, feels that this might be the reason why salon workers have more of health issues. Other studies have shown similar results in Pacific Northwest, Houston and Boston. Julia Liou, MPH, manager of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, feels that this is a national issue and is concerned about the chronic, long-term health problems of this exposure.
The risk of health problems is higher among the salon workers because of the daily exposure to the chemicals. Quach points out that since the toxins are in the nail care products, customers are also exposed to the chemicals to a lesser extent. Although most of them are suffering from the short-term symptoms, one need to worry about the long-term health risks associated with the exposure, warns Quach. Quach is interested in studying the long-term effects of the exposure.