Online Program

Indoor air quality survey of nail salons in Boston

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Anna Khazan, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Liza Ansher, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Ariana Berlin, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Emily Bunker Peterson, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Jenny Cheng, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Deena Kanopkin, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Meda Kisivuli, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Molly Lortie, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Laura Pohl, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Samuel Porter, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Vivian Zeng, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA
Tiffany Skogstrom, Senior Project Coordinator, Boston Public Health Commission, Boston, MA
Employees in nail salons, largely Vietnamese immigrant women in Boston, are exposed to a range of volatile organic chemicals from the products used in salons, including solvents, glues and polishes. Some of these chemicals have the potential to cause short and long-term adverse health effects. Only limited research has been performed on assessing occupational exposures. This project aimed to characterize total volatile organic compound (TVOC) and PM2.5 concentrations in nail salons as a function of ventilation, building characteristics, customer and employee occupancy, and type of services being performed.

Methods Students conducted sampling in 21 salons in Boston, MA from September to December, 2011.Study visits included: indoor environmental quality measurements (TVOCs, PM2.5 and carbon dioxide), site observations, and an interview.

Results CO2 levels in 15 of 21 salons exceeded 800 ppm, suggesting that these salons may have insufficient ventilation. Higher TVOC and PM2.5 levels were found in salons with less ventilation (as estimated using CO2 concentrations). Contrary to our a priori hypothesis, average levels of TVOCs , CO2 and PM2.5 were consistent throughout salons, indicating that exposures may not be restricted to areas in the salon where work is being performed (e.g., at the manicure table). Higher TVOC concentrations were observed when tasks were being performed, yet were not dependent upon the number of tasks being performed.

Conclusion Improving ventilation conditions in salons to meet minimum outdoor air delivery requirements can reduce exposures to TVOCs.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Occupational health and safety

Learning Objectives:
Identify the chemicals used in nail salons that present an exposure and health concern for workers; Describe the concentrations of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are present in nail salons; Discuss the factors that contribute to worker exposure to VOCs in nail salons.

Keyword(s): Environmental Justice, Workplace Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was one of the lead investigators for the project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.