clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Soon, You Can Choose Your Nail Salon Based on Air Quality Data

Driely S.

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

Since this past spring's terrifying exposé on nail salons, getting a manicure has become about much more than just going to the one that's closest to your apartment. Officials have been swift to respond with reforms, and the latest protective measure comes in the form of a pilot program testing out the air quality in nail salons.

Backed by the Clinton Global Initiative and New York City's public advocate office, the New York Times reports that the program, funded by a private equity firm, is designed to ensure that manicurists are not being harmed by the chemicals they use on a daily basis. Come January, 35 salons will have desk lamps fitted with air quality sensors that provide health officials with information about the toxin levels in the air. This information will then be turned over to health officials, salon owners and workers, and customers, with the goal of incentivizing owners to improve conditions.

"It will really allow users to have the information to make health choices about where they choose to get their nails done, and where to push for better air quality and ventilation systems," Brandon Zaharoff of equity firm Pegasus Capital Advisors told the paper. A total of 50 sensors will be distributed to salons on a volunteer basis.

However, the program's efficacy — and necessity — is already being called into question. Thu Quach, a research scientist at the Cancer Prevention Institute of California who ran a similar study in 2011 in which nail technicians wore sensors around their necks, thinks that the desk lamp placement "would really underestimate the exposures." And Cora Roelofs of Tufts University, who ran a separate study on nail salon toxicity in 2011, thinks that a better understanding of the air quality won't solve the underlying problem: "If something is a toxic chemical, you don't need to measure it — you need to get rid of it."