Working Healthy

Clear the Air

Good or bad, odor reveals little about salon air quality. Even if your salon rates "sweet" on the smell scale with employees or clients, depend on more reliable measures than your nose to rate your salon's air quality.

Select Effective Coverage

Looking to minimize particulate inhalation? Nellie Brown says not to bother wearing a mask that doesn’t meet the National Institute of Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) minimum N95 certification. According to Brown, N95-certified masks block at least 95% of particulates smaller than 0.3 microns.

So small they aren’t even visible to the naked eye, particulates smaller than 0.3 microns are the real concern to health professionals. The human respiratory system is designed to filter out larger particles, but these smaller particles flow right past the human barrier and may settle deep in the lungs.

Most medical, lab, and safety supply companies sell N95 masks. Don’t be scared off if the first styles you find look like they belong in a research lab — just keep shopping around until you find one styled after a surgical mask. And size before you buy, Brown emphasizes, saying, “The mask needs to sit well on your face or you’ll lose the protection.” Personally, Brown prefers a mask with an exhalation valve, which prevents moisture buildup inside the mask.

 Healthy Air Checklist

• Cap product containers tightly when not in use.

• Use pump dispensers or dappen dishes for liquid products, instead of working from large bottles.

• Use covered trash cans, empty the containers several times a day, and change the liners regularly.

• Wipe up spills immediately.

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