The EPA: Protecting Us from . . . Nail Salons

Good to know that the EPA is finally getting around to looking into the massive environmental threat posed by . . . nail salons.  From the National Journal:

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy will take a trip to a San Francisco nail salon Wednesday—a visit intended to shine a spotlight on health risks posed by the industry.

McCarthy’s West Coast trip arrives on the heels of a New York Times expose published last week that documented poor working conditions in New York City-area nail salons, detailing how workers are routinely underpaid and overworked. The article sparked public outcry and prompted Gov. Andrew Cuomo to call for an investigation into worker treatment at nail salons.

“We know more visibility needs to be raised for these issues and we’re working hard to reach communities and to educate folks,” McCarthy said Tuesday at the White House Summit on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Washington, where she announced her nail salon visit. . .

Nail polish and other products found in salons contain an array of chemicals that may pose a threat to public health and the environment. Without proper handling, exposure to chemicals such as formaldehyde can lead to difficulty breathing, skin irritation and other health problems.

EPA already has put together a federal working group and doled out grants to organizations tackling the industry’s public health and environmental impact created by the use of chemicals in nail salons, McCarthy noted.

And who might new EPA regulations of nail salons disproportionately affect? Hmm. Back in the 19th century when San Francisco imposed lots of restrictions and regulations on Chinese laundries, the U.S. Supreme Court had no trouble making out (and then striking down) the racially discriminatory motive behind some of these restrictions.  Seems to me we ought to take notice of this same kind if “disparate impact” today.


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