Community advocates focus on dangers of nail salons

They say a rising tide lifts all boats, and the rising tide of eco-awareness is now lifting … nail salons. The fume-filled shops are getting attention from groups eager to expose their health risks, which can include cancer and birth defects. The U.S. EPA has given two Seattle-area nonprofits a $100,000 grant for a three-year “Toxic Beauty” project that will educate owners and consumers about the downsides of pretty paints, as well as looking into alternative products and equipment. And in Oakland, Calif., the Participatory Research, Organizing, and Leadership Initiative for Safety and Health — or POLISH, like you didn’t see that coming — educates cosmetology students about industry regulations and plans to partner with the University of California-Berkeley to research air quality in local salons. Environmental-justice advocates in both areas note that most local salon owners are Vietnamese, so polish poses disproportionate dangers based on race. And you thought it was just a beauty aid.