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Nail salon workers at risk of workplace toxins

It might not appear so at first glance, but nail salons are inherently dangerous environments for workers.

The products that are routinely used can contain toxic chemicals that may adversely affect workers' health. The use of the products exposes nail technicians to chemical vapors, mists and dust that they breathe into their lungs. Additionally, the substances can be harmful to skin and eyes, and if workers accidentally transfer these chemicals onto cigarettes or food items and ingest them, they can cause intestinal problems.

While some of the problems may manifest as an acute illness, others are more insidious, lying dormant for months or years while the damage is compiled. Poorly ventilated nail salons and the long hours often worked by technicians can cause toxic build-ups of chemicals in the body that eventually emerge in full-blown health crises.

The problem is exacerbated by the high number of Asian immigrants who make their living in these salons. Often they know little, if any, English and cannot read warning signs and directions regarding proper ventilation. They may work for a boss who controls all aspects of their lives and fear retribution for making a complaint. But no one should have to be subjected to working in an unsafe or toxic environment.

But those workers do have recourse if they suffer injuries or harm due to their exposure to toxins in the workplace. They may seek compensation through the worker's compensation program in their state, or seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney to file a petition for damages in the civil court system.

Source: Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "Health Hazards in Nail Salons," accessed July 01, 2016

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