Enjoying a budget windfall of $20,000, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) recently turned its attention to nail salons in a big way. Its Board of Cosmetology Arts and Science Examiners used the money to hire extra inspectors and set a goal of inspecting 550 salons in just a few months. Ordinarily, just a tiny fraction of the state’s estimated 4,800 nail salons would have been inspected in that time.

Of those 550 inspections, nearly half resulted in complaints. “The most common violation  was unlicensed service providers,” says IDPH spokesperson Nicol Peckumn. “The second most common issue was unsanitary conditions – including not properly sanitizing equipment and using MMA.” The salons received 30 days to contest the inspectors’ findings or pay the fines.

As to why the IDPH decided to step up inspections so sharply, Peckumn says, “We wanted to raise Iowans awareness and make them more savvy consumers. We want them to know it’s OK to ask about sanitary procedures or ask to see a license.”

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