Nail Salon Workers: Chemical Exposures in the Workplace
|Institution:||Asian Health Services|
Linda Okahara , -
|Award Cycle:||2008 (Cycle 14)||Grant #: 14MB-0190||Award: $25,000|
|Award Type:||Joining Forces Conference Award|
|Disparities>Disparities: eliminating the unequal burden of breast cancer|
Initial Award Abstract (2008)
In recent years, considerable public attention has focused on the safety of personal care products, which has been largely unregulated, despite the potentially harmful compounds they contain, including carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. Health concerns have been particularly pronounced for cosmetology workers who provide hair and nail care services; however, there has been little or no human health evidence to inform the current animated public policy debates over restricting the use of these agents in consumer products.
The cosmetology industry in the U.S. has been one of the fastest growing professions; California has led the way with nearly 37,000 establishments and over 400,000 technicians who have been licensed to perform hair and nail care services since 1960. Cosmetology workers are exposed daily to an array of potentially hazardous compounds associated with nearly every hair and nail care service they provide. Many of these chemicals used are highly volatile, and salons are often poorly ventilated. Furthermore, the presence of numerous chemical compounds in beauty salons is likely to be continuous and mixed, the chronic effects of which are largely unknown. Clearly, the combination of hazardous chemicals, lagging regulatory standards and enforcements, predominance of minority populations with attributes that may further compromise their breast cancer risk and outcome (including language and cultural barriers as well as hormone-containing products targeted at African Americans) underscore a needed focus on this workforce as a special population with emerging health needs.
We propose to organize a convening to discuss the state of the science for research on occupational chemical exposures for cosmetology workers (hairdressers, nail salon workers and beauticians) and potential breast cancer risks, with the intention to inform, guide, and build upon current efforts in California as well as establish an infrastructure by which research information and ideas can be shared across the state and nation.The overall goals and objectives are to:
- Create a mechanism for cross dialogue on research directed at the potential link between chemical compound exposure and breast cancer risks
- Develop a research agenda for examining this relationship as well as for improving health and safety in this understudied worker population. Research efforts focused on this workforce may also have implications for the general population of consumers.
- Convene a group of experts who will speak on current research directed at understanding the relationship between chemical exposures in cosmetic products and breast cancer as well as health issues affecting cosmetology workers
- Identify gaps in research that need to be addressed
- Provide a forum for a diverse group of stakeholders, including nail salon and cosmetology workers, public health advocates, environmental justice advocates, policymakers, government agency representatives, researchers, breast cancer advocates and other community advocates, to strategize on future research directions
- Develop a research agenda to inform future policy and health outreach efforts aimed at improving worker health and safety as well as consumer use
- Summarize convening discussions and research agenda with key recommendations into a final report that will be accessible to other stakeholders.