Environmental Hazards within Nail Salons

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In the United States there are over 80,000 registered synthetic chemicals; 9,000-15,000 of which are currently in use. Nail salons are a hotbed of chemical activity with salon workers coming in contact with over 20 chemicals each day. Three main chemicals have recently come under fire for being hazardous to manicurists’ health. Named the “toxic trio,” toluene, dibutyl phthalate, and formaldehyde have been thoroughly investigated by many organizations and found to be hazardous. Unfortunately, there are a host of other chemicals found in nail salons that have not been studied as carefully or received as much attention as the “toxic trio.” My client, Women’s Voices for the Earth, was interested in learning about any potential hazardous health effects of methyl methacrylate, methyl ethyl ketone, and acetone. I was tasked with conducting a synthesis and quantitative analysis of the available literature to determine whether or not methyl methacrylate, methyl ethyl ketone and acetone where comparable to toluene, dibutyl phthalate, and formaldehyde in toxicity. I used major online databases including Pubmed (Ovid MEDLINE) and Toxicology Literature Online (TOXLINE) to locate peer-reviewed journals. I used 94 papers, an average of 16 per chemical then grouped each study based on whether the conclusions supported the null or alternate hypothesis. Finally, I ran a one-tailed binomial test to eliminate Type 1 Error. Methyl ethyl ketone was found to be less harmful than methyl methacrylate and acetone was determined to be one of the least harmful substances present in nail salons. Methyl methacrylate and the toxic trio should be prioritized over methyl ethyl ketone and acetone when advocating for manicurists’ health.






Roberts, Rachel (2011). Environmental Hazards within Nail Salons. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/3625.

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