Occupational Exposures among Nail Technicians in Toronto, Canada

Arrandale VH, Kalenge S, Nguyen LV, Kirkham TL, Diamond ML, Holness DL. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2018.

Introduction: Nail salons have proliferated recently. In Toronto, Canada, many of these salons are small businesses that employ immigrant women. The Healthy Nail Salon Network has undertaken initiatives to better understand the work and health of nail technicians in Toronto, ON. We present preliminary results of a study of chemical, ergonomic and psychosocial hazards in Toronto nail salons.

Methods: Sampling has been completed in five salons. Personal air samples were collected in the workers’ breathing zone to assess for exposure to VOCs, phthalates, organophosphate esters. Stationary continuous monitors were also used to assess formaldehyde and particulates in the work environment. The Quick Exposure checklist (QEC) was completed to assess the ergonomic risk associated with common nail salon tasks, and the Karasek job control demand scale was used to investigate job strain.

Results: In total, 10 workers participated in the sampling. Overall, 16 of the 20 VOCs investigated were detected. Acetone, ethyl acetate, methyl methacrylate, n-butyl acetate and toluene were detected in all samples. Formaldehyde (personal) exposures ranged from 16.5ppb to 39.6ppb (AM 24.2ppb). Methyl methacrylate ranged from 0.40mg/m3 to 18mg/m3 (AM 3.9 mg/m3). Plasticizers were also identified in air: 8 phthalates and 6 organophosphate esters were detected in at least one sample. For manicure and pedicure tasks, the QEC results showed high or very high back (static) and neck ergonomic exposures; shoulder and wrist/hand exposures were low/moderate. Results from the Karasek scale placed 83% of participants in the high job strain domain (low decision latitude and high job demands).

Conclusions: These preliminary results indicate that nail technicians have a variety of potentially hazardous exposures, not limited to chemicals. Further results from 26 enrolled salons will provide a more complete picture of these exposures among nail technicians in Toronto, Canada.