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Healthy Beauty

This article is from the WebMD News Archive

Groups Warn of Chemical Risks to Nail Salon Workers

Profile of woman with long dark hair

May 18, 2011 -- Groups are renewing a call for tougher federal regulation of salon products following recent studies suggesting dangerous chemicals could be endangering workers.

They want Congress to boost the power of the FDA to police salon products like nail polish, hair straighteners, and dyes because many of these products contain chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, and other problems.

"There is no labeling, no one knows what they're exposed to," says Thu Quatch, a researcher at the Cancer Institute of California. Quatch is the author of a recent study showing the air in salons in California contains high levels of toluene and other dangerous chemicals.

Researchers in that study also detected methyl-methacrylate in some salons, a chemical banned in the U.S. since 1974.

Quatch was among a group of scientists, safety advocates, and salon workers who spoke at a congressional staff briefing in Washington, D.C.

Nail Salon Safety

Over 375,000 nail technicians work in over 57,000 salons across the country, according to Quatch. An estimated half of them are Vietnamese immigrants, many of whom may not speak English, she says. But speaking English wouldn't help in many cases since salon products routinely go unlabeled, she says.

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