If you’re a nail technician in California, you’d better dispose of your nail files after using them on your clients, even if the file manufacturer claims they can be disinfected, and even if the word “disinfectable” is printed on them. If not, you could risk being fined by state inspectors. That’s what a recent roundtable discussion, spearheaded by the California Bureau of Barbering and Cosmetology and attended by file manufacturers and other industry figures, decided until further studies on nail file disinfection are produced.

At the meeting attendees concluded the best thing to do is to have an industry organization, namely the Nail Manufacturer s Council (NMC), develop standards for nail file disinfection.

Several nail file manufacturers had previously submitted independent lab reports on then files to the bureau, which were forwarded to the California Department of Health Services (DHS). The reports were meant to show that those respective manufacturers’ nail fifes could be disinfected and reused. However, Jon Rosenberg, a medical epidemiologist for the DHS, said the tests weren’t viable. “What manufacturers have done in the labs hasn’t been a valid simulation of what happens in a nail salon when the file is used on a client,” he said. According to Rosenberg one of the tests was sketchy and unprofessional, and the other one didn’t show any results for fungal infections, which are more serious than bacterial infections — for which results were provided.

Bureau chief James Goldstene admitted the bureau needs to set better and dearer standards that nail technicians and the industry can follow, meet, and understand, and everyone who attended the meeting was in agreement that some uniformity had to be set. “There’s been enough bad publicity on manufacturers and the industry. Now it’s time to come together;” said Jim Rudolph, president of Rudolph International (Brea, Calif.).

Goldstene also admitted the laws on nail tile disinfection, which have been in place since 1963, are outdated. “We need ideas on how laws should be updated and improved,” he said to attendees. From an enforcement official’s point of view, Goldstene said working with disposable nail files would be easier. However; most manufacturers felt otherwise. “The answer isn’t to have nail techs throw away their files after each use;” said Elizabeth Robbins, national sales manager for Rudolph International.

The news comes after months of confusion and frustration of both nail technicians and file manufacturers, many of whom were bewildered by the seemingly sudden rash of cita­tions and warnings issued to nail techs who failed to dispose of the very same nail files they had been disinfecting without incident for years prior, not to mention the bureau’s attitude regarding file manufacturers and disinfection (see “Are Your Files Clean Enough?” in August 2001 and “Files Come Under Fire” in November 2001 for more information).They were, also confused between the terms sanitation and disinfection, and what the bureau takes each one to mean.

Sherine Tate, marketing and education director of INM (Anaheim, Calif.), said the confu­sion nail technicians are going through also stems from the fact that they learn one thing in school and are told something else once they enter the work, force.

Although it was determined the NMC will begin working on the issue, no date was set on when the studies will begin or when they will be presented to the bureau. 

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