VARNISHED OVER: Are nail salon workers at risk from toxic chemicals?
3 Backers raised €50 of €4020

Nail salons aren’t thought of as hazardous workplaces but employees are exposed to toxic chemicals every day.

Formaldehyde, acetone and other chemicals in gel nails and polishes have well-known health impacts. They can cause cancer, allergic reactions, chemical burns and can be damaging to pregnant women. Masks do not protect from nail dust or solvents.

But the nail salon industry remains underregulated in Ireland.

Our investigation will dig into complaints from staff and uncover why standards haven’t been made law.


The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) produced guidance in 2018 for nail salon workers after it found that businesses had a poor understanding of the risks. The watchdog also said it would carry out more inspections.

Our investigation will examine what work the HSA has done since 2018 and uncover the results of the latest inspections.

We will also speak to nail technicians, trade associations and industry experts to document what hazards workers face.

Other countries have recently passed legislation to protect nail technicians, recognising the health risks. In 2019, the National Standards Authority of Ireland published the first European Standard for Beauty Salon Services but it is not part of national law.

Our investigation will find out what protections currently exist and whether more are needed.

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3 Backers raised €50 of €4020
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