Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Public Health

Major Professor

Steve P. Mlynarek, Ph.D.


Acrylic nails, Artificial nails, Nails salons, Cosmetologists, Ventilation


Fingernail sculptors may be exposed to ethyl methacrylate and methyl methacrylate in their workplace. The literature suggests that these chemicals may cause sensitization in individuals who are exposed to sufficient quantities. Cases of occupational asthma and allergic contact dermatitis have been reported among persons who work with these chemicals. Little personal exposure data exists on nail technicians' exposures to these chemicals, especially ethyl methacrylate. The literature suggests that the industrial hygiene practices used for methyl methacrylate also be applied to ethyl methacrylate since more is known about methyl methacrylate. Previous exposure studies have revealed relatively low exposures to these chemical. There are no U.S. occupational exposure limits for ethyl methacrylate.

The objectives of this study were to measure nail sculptors' exposure to ethyl methacrylate and/or methyl methacrylate vapors in their personal breathing zone, describe the interior lay-out of the nail salon in relation to where the chemical vapors were generated, and quantify the volume of air supplied by the HVAC. This study was designed to further characterize and quantify nail technicians' exposures to ethyl methacrylate and methyl methacrylate. Two nail salons were identified as study sites. A total of five fingernail sculptors volunteered to participate. Personal sampling pumps and activated charcoal media were used to collect organic vapors in the personal breathing zones of the participants. The samples were collected for an entire work shift and analyzed by gas chromatography with dual flame ionization detection, per a modified OSHA 7 Protocol. The 8-hour time weighted averages ranged from <1 - 31 parts per million of ethyl methacrylate and <1 - 5.2 parts per million methyl methacrylate. These levels were similar to those already reported in the literature. These levels were below any U.S. occupational exposure level in place or suggested. Local exhaust ventilation appeared to make a difference, as did natural ventilation. The results of this study strongly suggested that methyl methacrylate was used at one salon despite a ban on its use in nail products.