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Nail salon chemicals under increased scrutiny

South Carolina residents may have noticed a slew of recent news reports regarding the purported danger of chemicals in nail salon products. There have been new studies suggesting that extended exposure to such chemicals could lead to serious health issues, including cancer, respiratory disease, asthma and miscarriages, and a series of investigative reports by The New York Times led New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to issue emergency regulations protecting salon workers in May.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are at least 12 chemicals present in many nail salons that can cause significant health problems. Three of of these chemicals, formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate, have been coined the "toxic trio" because they are associated with very serious issues, including lung and kidney failure, cancer, miscarriages and birth defects. Although several countries have banned the use of these particular chemicals, the United States is not one of them. The Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938, which many observers believe is outdated, bans the use of toxic chemicals in cosmetics, but it does not require chemical manufacturers to test the effects of their products or seek FDA approval before marketing them.

The new safety regulations enacted to protect nail salon employees in New York City include the required use of masks and gloves. Salons are also mandated to keep their establishments adequately ventilated. The NYC Department of Consumer Affairs has also petitioned the cosmetic chemical industry to cease the use of dangerous chemicals in its products.

South Carolina nail salon employees who believe they have been sickened due to chemicals in their workplace may wish to consult with an attorney. Legal counsel could assist in the filing of a claim for workers' compensation benefits that, if approved, could help pay for medical expenses.

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