The charcoal air filter Debbie Shoaff used at the beginning of her nail career was adequate for one, but when she expanded the nail staff at The Hair and Nail Gallery in Wampum, Pa., it just didn’t cut it. The expensive ionizing unit she bought next was little better — customers came right out and told her the place stank. Shoaff realized the remedy for her ventilation woes was a local exhaust system — one that would remove dust and vapors from each technician’s breathing zone and vent outside — but she didn’t want some ugly clunky contraption ruining her well-planned decor Her custom-built, three-table manicure station sat right in the middle of the salon, making the design especially awkward.

Shoaff pondered the problem for over a year. Finally she sketched out an idea, first running it past Creative Nail Design’s Doug Schoon then an engineer friend, and finally a client well-versed in OSHA regulations. With vents reaching out to each table, the system is camouflaged in a big cylindrical column that sits on a box in the center of the manicure station, it extends through the ceiling to a flexible pipe and finally to a fan that sucks the air out through the roof. A polish rack spins around the column so that all the technicians can use the same inventory of polish. “My nail tech is pregnant and I feel I’m contributing to making a safer environment,” says Shoaff. “It has also made a world of difference keeping all our trash in a closed container;” she adds.

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