A proposed city ordinance that would have required nail salons in Rolling Meadows, IL., to have their ventilation systems reviewed by a certified contractor or environmental engineering firm has been temporarily forestalled. “The city council decided that it didn’t want to proceed with the ordinance as written,” says Bill Barlow, city manager. “The requirements for salons were not specific enough for the council.”

The ordinance was the result of two different complaints lodged against two of the city’s nail salons. The first came in early August 1997, when employees from the Rolling Meadows post office said that the vapors emitted from First Nails next door were interfering with their health and making it necessary to close the office temporarily at times.

While the environmental agency called in by the city’s business license review board found that the air in the salon was within OSHA guidelines for acceptable air quality, the salon was still asked to make some minor changes. After six months of hearings and testing, First Nails closed before their business lease expired and set up again in a neighboring town.

The second instance started in July when a local barbershop had clients complain about smells coming from Illusions of Nails & Hair, located next door. “I use an odorless product and have two freestanding HEPA filters, ceiling ventilation that is part of an existing ordinance, and a fresh air return,” says salon owner Judith Daniels, “I can’t spend thousands of dollars to correct something that doesn’t exist.”

The dispute recently ended when the barbershop went out of business. “If the next business that moves in has the same problems, we will be back to where we started,” says Barlow. He notes that the salon and barbershop did share a common ceiling and the building in which both are located seemed poorly constructed, which may have caused the problem — in spite of the precautions taken in the salon.

Barlow is quick to point out that the city wants to keep all business in town and that is why the council is looking into developing and passing a more specific ordinance in the next six months. Barlow says the new ordinance will be drafted so that it will only affect new businesses.

This worries Daniels because site believes that an improperly worded ordinance could make starting a salon in the town cost-prohibitive and keep people from entering the nail business altogether. “This could set a precedent for other cities,” she says.

Barlow says that salon owners should be sure to work with the building owner to ensure adequate ventilation before they sign a lease. “We are not trying to drive businesses out of town, and we are not anti-nail salon. In fact we have at least four other businesses having to do with nails in town,” he says. “We just want them to make sure that the building is adequately set up for their business.”

This situation is an example of the growing market for odorless products. Many day spas will no longer allow traditional acrylic products to be used because of clients’ sensitivity to the vapors and because the smell may detract from the aromatic environment.

“Salons and day spas are beginning to phase out traditional products in favor of those that are odor-free,” says Tony Cuccio, CEO/president of Star Nails Products.

Cuccio insists that odorless products are the industry’s future. “Eventually, we will even substitute spray activators and resins with UV gel,” he says.

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