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Toxic cosmetics chemicals may affect nail salon workers

Louisiana residents may have seen some recent reports linking some of the chemicals used in nail salon products to such serious medical issues as cancer, asthma, respiratory illness and miscarriages. While many efforts to impose tougher regulations against the use of such chemicals have not been successful, the New York Times has published a series of articles designed to draw attention to the issue. In response, the New York governor has issued regulations to offer protection for salon workers who may be in regular contact with the chemicals.

The Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938 regulates harmful chemicals in cosmetics, but critics argue that the law is outdated. Cosmetic chemicals do not require FDA approval before marketing, and their manufacturers are not required to disclose safety information with the FDA. Critics of a bipartisan bill to expand the FDA's ability to oversee cosmetics argue that the bill is not extensive enough and may block each state's ability to impose harsher regulations.

OSHA identifies at least twelve cosmetic chemicals, including dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde, as serious health risks for salon workers. The latter three chemicals have been banned in some countries, while other countries require clear labeling. Emergency regulations require manicurists to wear gloves and masks and for salons to be well-ventilated. New York City's Department of Consumer Affairs has called for updated OSHA standards regarding the chemicals.

Regardless of their occupation, many workers are exposed to toxic chemical exposure in the workplace, and some can develop serious illnesses as a result. A workers' compensation attorney may be able to determine if such a victim is eligible to file a claim for benefits that could include the provision of medical care and treatment.

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