According to a new survey from the Northern California Cancer Center and Asian Health Services of Oakland that specifically focused on Vietnamese nail salon workers, Vietnamese nail techs suffer from acute health effects associated with the chemicals they use in that work. “Our survey is part of a pilot project designed to characterize Vietnamese nail salon workers in Alameda County, Calif., in order to inform future health interventions and reduce occupational exposures. Nail salon workers are likely to have higher exposures to these compounds than the customers they serve,” said Thu Quach of the Northern California Cancer Center.

“A majority of the workers reported health concerns from exposures to workplace chemicals,” said Dung Nguyen of Asian Health Services who directed the face-to-face interviews with 201 Vietnamese nail salon workers at 74 salons. “Many of them reported having some health problem after they began working in the industry, particularly skin and eye irritation, breathing difficulties, and headaches,” according to Nguyen.

“Our findings highlight a critical need for further investigation into the breast cancer risk of nail salon workers, underscored by the workers’ routine use of carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals, their prevalent health concerns about such chemicals, and their high level of acute health problems,” adds Quach, “Moreover, the predominance of Vietnamese immigrant women in this workforce makes it an important target group for further research and health interventions.” The NCCC/AHS partnership has recently been funded by California’s Breast Cancer Research Program to further investigate these concerns.

“A Preliminary Survey of Vietnamese Nail Salon Workers in Alameda County, California” was published on May 14th electronically on SpringerLink and is scheduled to appear in the October print issue of Journal of Community Health.