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Filthy NYC nail salons put customers, workers at risk: public advocate

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NEW YORK CITY (PIX11) -- Public Advocate Letitia James is making a push for cleaner and safer nail salons in New York City.

Public Advocate Letitia James releases report called "How Safe is Your Nail Salon?"

Public Advocate Letitia James releases report called "How Safe is Your Nail Salon?"

James released a 21-page report called “How Safe is Your Nail Salon?” on Monday, which highlights safety issues, best practices and recommendations for improving nail salon hygiene for employees and customers.

The report comes after recent emphasis on the potentially harmful chemicals used in salons. Nail products contain “the toxic trio,” which include toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate. The trio has been linked to reproductive harm, respiratory problems and cancer.

Often times, little to no information is given to workers about protecting themselves from the chemicals they come in contact with. One report found "the intensity of exposure for salon workers is 1,200 times what it would be for the average American."

Additionally, 89 percent of the 10,000 chemicals in nail products have not been tested by an independent agency for safety.

Customers are also at risk if their salon does not properly sterilize nail equipment. Unclean equipment, especially foot baths with hair and skin remnants, can lead to staph infections, Hepatitis and bacterial infections. Dr. Robert Spalding, author of Death by Pedicure: Dirty Secrets of Nail Salons, reported that nearly 75 percent of salons in the country do not abide to their state's standards for disinfecting equipment.

  • Read the full salon report, here

Currently, approximately 2,000 salons are licensed for nail care and design in New York City. The city is not responsible for inspecting salons. Nail salon evaluations fall on New York State, which has only 27 inspectors for the 5,000 salons statewide.

James' report recommends implementing a "Healthy Nail Salons" incentive program, which would provide eligible businesses with a $500 grant for ventilation expenses. The report also suggests conducting a study that would find new ways to improve working conditions, as well as providing multilingual health and safety information.

"New Yorkers deserve to know the salons they visit are safe, and salon employees must know that they have a right to information about the chemicals they're handling, and how best to protect themselves," James said.

"Today's report is not meant to penalize these business, but rather outline how the industry can increase protections, and ensure that we create safer and more sanitary conditions in salons."