Are acrylic fumes are dangerous?

Celebrity Q and A'sI am an eleven year veteran nail tech. I have always primarily used Tammy Taylor and Creative Nail acrylics. I do approximately 28 to 30 acrylic services per week on a non ventilated table. I have slowly over the last 4 years developed dizziness and vertigo. It happens a lot at work and some at home. Does any one know if acrylic fumes are dangerous to our "brains"? Has any one else out there had the same symptoms as me? I am really getting scared. I can't find any info about affects on sinuses or the brain from long term exposure to EMA acrylic. Help! Julie 5/00

First of all, see a doctor immediately. Dizziness and vertigo can have many causes, not necessarily relating to chemical vapors. Ear or sinus infections, allergies, and other factors may cause these symptoms. 

It is possible that you are becoming sensitive to the acrylic vapors. If so, whenever you inhale them, your nose, throat, and sinuses would be irritated. This would potentially irritate the middle or inner ear as well, which could cause your vertigo symptoms. However, only your doctor could tell you for sure. 

If acrylic vapors are truly the cause of your problems, and you intend to remain in the nail tech business, you need a local exhaust system -- that is, one that pulls vapors away from your "breathing zone" and work area. A vented table might work, or you could go with an exhaust system that drops down from the ceiling over your work area. In either case, the vapors must be pulled away from you (and your client) and either blown OUT of the salon, or filtered. (An ordinary fan or air conditioner won't do, as the vapors would remain in the salon's air.)

Two excellent articles on the subject are found in the May 1997 and April 1996 issues of Nails magazine. If you don't have access to those, I can arrange for copies to be faxed to you. 

Paul Bryson. Ph.D.
Co-Director of R&D
OPI Products, Inc.

You will be happy to know that ethyl methacrylate is one of the most studied monomers on Earth. There is a huge amount of scientific literature that backs up the safety of this important substance. It is used in everything from household plastics to medical devices that are implanted in the body. Recently, the prestigious Cosmetic Ingredient Review Panel (CIR) reviewed all of this literature and determined that this ingredient is so safe that it can be used in retail nail products.

Of course, as with all professional products, you should work safely. One way to ensure this is to use proper ventilation. Dizziness isn't a disease, but it can be a sign of overexposure. Long term over exposure (years) is exceedingly unlike to cause serious problems... but who wants to feel dizzy for years? Not me and I doubt that you do either.

I suggest you look more closely at your ventilation and other work habits. It is pretty easy to control vapors, if you try. Keep liquid containers covered, empty trash cans often and try to avoid wiping excess amounts of liquid onto table towels. Also, look into a vapor extraction system that captures the vapors at their source (your table) and expels them out of the building. It is very, very difficult to remove vapors from the air and return it to the salon, so it's best to expel them from the salon. Also, devices that "neutralize" vapors don't work as promised, i.e ozone generators. I would avoid their use. Hope this info helps.

Doug Schoon
Director of R&D
Creative Nail Design, Inc.

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