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The Greater New York City area ranks highest in the United States in the number of nail salon technicians, primarily Asian immigrant women. Nail salon technicians are exposed to toxic phthalates and volatile organic compounds daily in nail salons. The purpose of this pilot study was to measure a mixture of phthalates and volatile organic compounds in nail salons in the Greater New York City area, and to characterize work-related determinants of indoor air quality in these nail salons. Working with four Asian nail salon organizations in the Greater New York City area, we measured indoor air phthalates and volatile organic compounds at 20 nail salons from February to May 2021 using silicone wristbands and passive samplers, respectively. Nail salon characteristics were also examined. We measured six phthalates and 31 volatile organic compounds. Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate and Diethyl phthalate had the highest concentrations among the six phthalates measured. Concentrations of toluene, d -limonene, methyl methacrylate, and ethyl methacrylate were higher than that of the rest. Manicure/pedicure tables, the number of customers per day, and application of artificial nail (acrylic) services were positively associated with the levels of phthalates and volatile organic compounds. Given the large number of people employed in the nail industry and the even larger number of customers visiting such establishments, exposures to these toxic chemicals are likely to be widespread.


This article was originally published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and can be accessed at

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license ( https:// 4.0

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