Beauty May Come at a Price

Written by on July 16, 2012 in Employment Law Blog
Workplace Health Risks

Each day on the job salon nail technicians put their health at risk as they work in areas filled with chemicals and hazardous materials.

Health Risks

  • Acetone – Found in both polish and remover; can cause headaches, dizziness, reproductive complications and problems to the nervous system
  • Toluene – Found in polish; can damage both the nervous and reproductive systems
  • Formaldehyde – Found in polish; can cause asthma and rashes
  • Dibutyl Phthalate – Found in polish; can affect sexual organ development in male fetuses
  • Methacrylate – Found in artificial nails; this chemical is banned in Canada; can cause numbness and pain for the nail technician
  • Artificial nails and human nail filings – can cause and trigger occupational asthma and/or respiratory irritation
  • Natural rubber latex – In Gloves; can cause asthma


  • Know your obligations as an employer
  • Ensure that all work areas are properly ventilated, including ventilated tables
  • Provide employees with industrial-grade dust masks
  • To reduce the amount of chemical vapour in the air use spring-loaded bottles for nail polish remover
  • Ensure all dispenser bottles have small openings to minimize chemical vapours
  • Ensure product containers are closed immediately after use
  • Remove garbage frequently; dispose in a sealed waste bin


  • Know your rights as an employee
  • Report any dangers to your supervisor
  • Wear your industrial-grade dust mask while working on each customer. Note: dust masks do NOT provide protection against hazardous vapours
  • Use ventilated tables
  • Use spring-loaded bottles
  • Close all product containers immediately after use
  • Remove waste from garbage bins frequently to minimize exposure to hazardous vapours

For more information see “Work-Related Asthma and You” by The Lung Association and the Ontario Ministry of Labour, also the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

For more details, see The Globe and Mail (“Your manicure looks beautiful. But the health effects are ugly”, by Denise Balkissoon, July 14, 2012)

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