BY ANGELA MATUA
Public Advocate Letitia James wants your local nail salon to improve its health and safety conditions.
James joined advocates and elected officials outside of City Hall on Friday to rally in support of the Nail Salon Health and Safety Bill.
The bill would require all nail salons in New York City to register with the City Department of Health. Currently, New York State is in charge of inspecting the 5,000 nail salons in the state. New York City is home to 2,000 of those salons. There are only 32 inspectors dedicated to this task and only 25 percent of the nail salons are inspected each year.
“New Yorkers from all walks of life patronize our city’s nail salons on a regular basis, but most do not know that many of these businesses are rife with unsanitary conditions and hazardous chemicals that endanger the health of both customers and employees that work there every day,” James said.
Lois Christie, owner of Christie & Co. Salon and Spa in Bayside, said this bill is an important and necessary step to keeping customers safer.
“[In] my opinion, many nail salons really don’t follow the proper sterilization license rules and in fact, many put other products in other bottles so you think for example they’re using something like a gel but they’re using acrylic or something else,” Christie said.
Christie & Co. has been in business for 45 years, and Christie said her salon takes extreme measures to make sure their tools are sterilized. She uses autoclave to sterilize her instruments, which is the same process that dentists use for their tools.
Though the machine used to sterilize her tools is very expensive, Christie said she believes her clients deserve that level of care.
Christie said people should ask for the licenses of technicians working at the nail salons they visit and also be aware of how they sterilize their tools.
“People should have a level of safety just like a food [business], you want to know if somebody’s kitchen is clean,” Christie said.
The bill would also require the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to develop guidelines to improve the health and safety of nail salons.
Nail salons would be incentivized to install a new mechanical ventilation unit to improve air quality and can be reimbursed for up to $500.
According to a report released by James, hazardous chemicals such as toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate are used regularly in nail products and have been linked with reproductive harm, respiratory problems and cancer.
Salon workers are most at risk since they deal with these chemicals and do not wear any protective gear.
A task force of physicians, practitioners, government and advocates would also be required to gather data and produce a report on nail salon health, safety and standards of practice under this bill.
“Nail salons should not only help New Yorkers feel beautiful, they must also keep nail salon workers safe and healthy,” said Miriam Yeung, executive director of the National Asian Pacifica American Women’s Forum. “Intro 304-A is an important first step in creating healthier salons for consumers and workers.”