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Bill Would Protect Nail Salon Workers And Customers From Chemical Exposure

Flickr / Rubbertoe (Robert Batina)

Flickr / Rubbertoe (Robert Batina)

Lawmakers want to protect the health of manicurists and their customers through a new bill that encourages nail salon workers to use less toxic products and practices.

The Nail Salon Recognition Program would allow salons that use less toxic products and practices to be designated a healthy nail salon to consumers.

Assemblymember David Chiu introduced the bill. He says salon workers can be exposed to chemicals such as formaldehyde, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate, which may cause allergies, cancer and reproductive harm.

"There still are toxic chemicals used in certain nail polishes when there are many toxic free alternatives on the marketplace that are as inexpensive and are better for workers and better for customers," he says.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control would develop guidelines for participating salons and determine potential exposure of nail salon workers and customers to harmful chemicals. The agency would also work with cities and counties to develop public awareness campaigns and education for manicurists about potential exposure to harmful chemicals and less toxic alternatives.

Jen Carr, manicurist and owner of Lacquered Nail Salon in Sacramento, says she decided not to offer services requiring harsh chemicals for the health of employees and customers. 

"I think it's really important for manicurist to work in an environment where we feel safe and not always worrying what we're using. Is it going to kill us or are we going to end up in the hospital?" she says.

Chiu says there are an estimated 120,000 nail salon workers in California and 50,000 salons. 

The program would go into effect Jan. 1 if signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Ja'Nel Johnson

Former Health Care Reporter

Ja'Nel Johnson developed a love for journalism and health and science in high school, and decided the combination would make for an interesting and fun career.  Read Full Bio 

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