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Am Ind Hyg Assoc J. 1997 Mar;58(3):214-8.

Control of ethyl methacrylate exposures during the application of artificial fingernails.

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  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Cincinnati, OH 45226-1998, USA.


In 1990 six cases of physician-diagnosed occupational asthma in cosmetologists working with artificial fingernails prompted the Colorado Department of Health to request the assistance of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers in the evaluation and control of nail salon technician exposure. A commercially available recirculating downdraft table with charcoal filters was purchased and evaluated. Researchers from NIOSH made modifications to the table that included increasing the downdraft air volume; enlarging the plenum for more consistent airflow rates at the face of the table; removing the charcoal filters while incorporating a ventilation system to the outdoors; and putting an extension around the duct leading to the perforated plate at the downdraft face of the table. An evaluation was performed using the following two configurations: the modified table with the downdraft ventilation on (vented) and without the downdraft ventilation on (unvented). Each of the two configurations was sampled for 3 days in random order. Testing included the use of XAD-2 solid sorbent tubes for determining ethyl methacrylate and methyl methacrylate concentrations. Relative concentrations of organics were examined and used to analyze work practices. The geometric mean ethyl methacrylate exposure for personal breathing zone samples when using the modified table for approximately 6 hours was 0.6 ppm; when using the unventilated conventional table, the geometric mean exposure was 8.7 ppm. The difference in the values is statistically significant (p = 0.0045). Methyl methacrylate concentrations were nondetectable on all sorbent tubes.

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