Occupational Inhalation Exposures in Nail Salons in Michigan

Research Trainee: Lexuan Zhong, PhD, Post-Doctoral Student, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Michigan

Principal Investigator/Faculty Supervisor: Stuart Battterman, PhD, Professor, Department of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Michigan

Lexuan Zhong

Lexuan Zhong, PhD


Professor Stuart Batterman

Professor Stuart Batterman

Our sample of Michigan nail salons shows elevated levels of VOCs that are associated with nail salon products. Exposure to VOCs is associated with a wide range of adverse health effects. Important results for OH&S practitioners from this research include: the demonstration that MMA is used in nearly all salons, despite restriction on this product; estimates that worker exposure to VOCs (determined using personal monitoring) is 1.2 to 2.0 times higher than area measurements; and the presence of low and possibly inadequate ventilation rates in a subset of salons. Some of the methodological findings of interest to OH&S practitioners include: demonstrating how VOCs can be apportioned using chemical mass balance modeling; the identification of products responsible for emissions; and the demonstration that “informal” short-term sampling approaches can facilitate access to salons and provide useful measurements.


Idle nail products not well closed

For policy-makers and more broadly, the industry, it is important to realize that NSTs represent a large and potentially vulnerable population. The VOC levels found, particularly for MMA and EMA, suggest the need for better controls. VOC exposures can be controlled by many means: appropriate licensing and certification requirements; setting and complying with standards and guidelines that recognize the potential sensitivity of the population; disclosing and translating product safety information for all products (e.g., adopted from material safety data sheets and translated into Korean, Vietnamese, and other languages common in the industry); improving point and area ventilation; and restricting product ingredients. Steps to ensure that salons are healthy and sustainable environments include: coordination and information-sharing among stakeholders (NSTs, salon owners, building managers, engineers, architects, health scientists, policy makers, etc.); outreach, education and training for salon owners and NSTs regarding best practices; and restrictions on nail product formulations.

Project Abstract