Sunday, August 19, 2007

Erin Brockovich Small Scale

Okay, so you are not about to fight a big corporation to arrest or reduce environmental pollutants hurting the health of others. So, how can you help? Did you know that the manicure that you, your friends, and others get is hurting the health of the manicurist? The chemicals used at nail salons have negative effects on the workers. One major study done by researchers at Wayne State University found that salon workers' mental and physical health have been harmed by chemicals. Mentally, the workers have shown a decline in attention span, processing speed, memory, and verbal reasoning. Children born to salon workers have faced poor performance on tests of cognitive and language processing and behavior. A salon worker's exposure to the chemicals is 1,200 times higher than that of the average citizen, which is not to say that those who have manicures regularly are also not at high risk.

Three of the chemicals used in nail salons have been associated with cancer. These are toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phtalate. In Springfield, MA, a hospital found that nail salon workers suffered from miscarriages as well as from rashes, fungal infections, and asthma. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has noted that salon workers are not only exposed to toxic chemicals, but work long hours and might be of childbearing age and bring children into the workplace.

What can you do to help out? Begin by researching the topic, and by learning what companies like OPI, one of the largest producers of nail salon products, is doing. In Springfield, MA., a community group received a $100,000 grant from the EPA to improve ventilation systems in salons. What ideas do you have to help workers in salons protect their physical and mental health as well of that of their children? And, remember it takes far less concentration of chemicals to harm children than it does adults!

Credits: Picture from Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
A manicure at Happy Beauty Salon in Carle Place, on Long Island
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Information from STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: August 19, 2007m The New York Times, At Nail Salons, Beauty Treatments Can Have a Distinctly Unglamorous Side

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