Originally published on May 1, 2015.
HOST INTRO: Last fall, the public advocates office released a report alleging unsafe conditions at the city’s 2,000 nail salons. Today, the city council took up a bill that would regulate them. Charlotte Gibson reports.
There are 2,000 salons in New York City and the state is currently in charge of inspecting them. But, there are only 32 inspectors in the whole state.
The bill would allow the city to take over inspecting the salons, according to Public Advocate Letitia James
JAMES ACTUALITY: “People need to know, we need to inform the general public and most importantly we need to make sure that employees know about the dangers of some of these chemicals and protect themselves.” (00:09)
Most nail salons use products that have been linked to reproductive harm, respiratory problems, and cancer.
The bill would allow the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to develop guidelines for salons.
Sonam Dolaer works for a group called Adhikaarh, a group that represents Nepali- speaking communities in New York City. Many of whom work in nail salons. She hopes the bill will improve conditions for the workers.
DOLAER ACTUALITY: “I think it’s a great step forward. The fact that finally people are talking about how to improve standards at nail salons because people have been working for years and they work with so many chemicals.” (00:12).
Srijana Malla is a member of the group and has worked seven years. She says workers like her need respiratory masks.
MALLA ACTUALITY: “Lots of people are allergic from the nails. When we do the nail files, we have the dust that makes our noses block and bleeding and breathing problem, you know.” (00:24)
The bill would implement a letter-grading system for beauty parlors and nail salons like the one used for restaurants. The Independent Budget Office estimates it would cost the city $7.2 million a year to inspect the salons.
Uptown Radio approached a dozen nail salons in the city and none of the managers would agree to an interview. Advocates of the bill say there doesn’t appear to be a trade association for nail salons. But, the salon owners we spoke to don’t seem to be aware that the bill has been introduced.
Some nail salon customers say they approve of the measure. Pat Poklemba is a regular customer of a salon in the Upper West Side.
POKLEMBA ACTUALITY: “That would be very important it’s like when you are going to a restaurant, you look at the ratings outside. I wouldn’t just walk into any place. You look at the place, especially walking around new york there’s a lot of them, salons, so if there’s something just looking at them, I wouldn’t go in.”
Supporters hope that the full council will take it up within the next few months.
Charlotte Gibson, Columbia Radio News.