Working Healthy

San Francisco Passes Healthy Nail Salon Recognition Ordinance

<p>Supporters of the Healthy Nail Salon Recognition ordinance gave free manicures at a July 2010 event to raise public awareness of the issue.</p>

We’ve all heard the saying: As California goes, so goes the nation. Well, if that’s true then a San Francisco nail salon ordinance may mean greener nail salons are on their way to your town. In October, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Public Safety Committee passed the Healthy Nail Salon Recognition ordinance at the urging of advocacy groups California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, Environment California, and Asian Law Caucus. Under the ordinance, the city will publicly identify establishments that use polishes (including top and base coats) free of the chemicals toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and formaldehyde.

“This ordinance is a groundbreaking first step toward addressing worker health,” says Julia Liou of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative. “Workers experience chronic illnesses due to the chemicals in nail products that they work with on a daily basis.”  

Backers of the ordinance note a 2007 study of Vietnamese-American nail technicians that suggested an elevated prevalence of work-related health effects, including respiratory symptoms, skin problems and headaches, as compared to the general population.

Says Supervisor David Chiu, who introduced the ordinance: “By recognizing nail salons that prioritize the health and safety of both workers and customers, my legislation is an important first step in addressing the ‘toxic trio’ problem. Ultimately, we hope to see manufacturers reformulate their products and stop using harmful chemicals in them altogether.”

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