Lawmaker fights to exempt local nail salons from expensive regulation

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah lawmaker wants to exempt the state's nail salons from a new universal requirement that could cost them each thousands to tens of thousands of dollars if they open for the first time or remodel starting in 2014.

The rule in the International Mechanical Code would require those businesses to add ventilation systems for every single work station, said Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross.

"We want to be a business-friendly state," Weiler said. "It's cost prohibitive to run this type of small margin business with these types of industrial requirements."

Candace Daly with the Utah Beauty School Owners Association said the organization learned of the rule change when a couple salons tried to remodel and were informed of the regulation by a building inspector. Daly said the cost per individual ventilation system could be anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000.

Any nail salon currently operating would not be required to add ventilation systems outside of a remodel, but Weiler said it is common for businesses in the industry to remodel frequently to keep customers interested and coming back.

That pattern led Weiler and industry groups to predict "75 percent" of the state's nail salons could ultimately be driven out of business if the matter were not addressed by the legislature.

At Salt Lake Nails, Traci Ho said the business operated well with three ventilation units serving six work stations.

"I don't think every table needs it," Ho said.

Sometimes it's hard to even start a business and having to put those in as a law and requirement - it'd be hard.

–Candace Daly, member of the Utah Beauty School Owners Association

Ho suggested complying with the new regulation could raise problems for the small business.

"Sometimes it's hard to even start a business and having to put those in as a law and requirement - it'd be hard," she said.

Daly said businesses that operated out of a first floor of a multi-story building would have more trouble because they would either have to reposition work stations near windows or even potentially move locations.

According to Daly, the reasoning behind the rule stemmed from health concerns over the chemical methyl methacrylate. Methyl methacrylate has been banned from nail shops in Utah for years, she said.

Zebby Anderson, another nail technician based out of Bountiful who has more than three decades of experience, questioned the original rule that outlawed the chemical. She said she worked around the substance with never a health problem, and suggested the reason the substance was outlawed is because it used to be a cheaper alternative to acrylic liquid.

Regardless, Daly said the state's restriction on the chemical serves as enough self-regulation to justify Weiler's proposed exemption for Utah nail shops.

"We think we've solved the problem with the caustic smells by banning that particular product," Daly said.

Weiler planned to introduce legislation creating the nail salon exemption at the upcoming legislative session.


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