Are Nail Salon Chemicals Safe?

smiling african american woman having her nails done in a nail salon

Harmful chemicals may be endangering the health of nail salon patrons and workers, according to a new study.

Researchers at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California and Asian Health Services report finding unsafe levels of toluene, a solvent linked to neurological, reproductive, and endocrine damage, and other chemicals, including one that has been banned by the FDA since 1974. The study is published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Nail salon workers are at a heightened risk of health problems because they are exposed to the chemicals on a daily basis. However, Quach points out, the toxins are in the nail care products, which means that customers are exposed as well.

The research team recruited 80 salon clients and workers, at 20 different salons, to participate in the study. Each of them wore a monitor attached to a shirt or coat collar. The monitor would measure concentrations of toluene, ethyl acetate, and isopropyl acetate.