Nail technicians come into contact with a wide variety of chemicals, some of them extremely harmful. In the United States, it is estimated that 96% of technicians are women. And concerns over chemical contact on the job is becoming more pressing. This is for good reason, as some of the chemicals, including toluene and dibutyl phthalate, are known as hormone disruptors.
Technicians are usually warned about the potential harm that can be caused through exposure. The fastest way exposure happens at salons is through inhalation. When filing and buffing nails, the chemicals can enter the technician’s body, in addition to vapors from the acrylic liquid or other products that have evaporated into the environment. Both are inhaled by technicians and customers alike.
There have been a growing number of studies conducted on the health implications of long-term exposure to the endocrine (hormone) disruptors. While research remains ongoing, the chemicals by definition interfere with the body’s reproductive system.
While nail technicians are warned about the adverse effects of these chemicals, they are not told the consequences. Toluene and dibutyl phthalate are two of the toxic trio of salon chemicals putting technicians at risk, in addition to formaldehyde. While these chemicals often do not affect consumers, long-term exposure has different consequences for technicians.