Secondary Logo

Journal Logo

Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Neuropsychological Symptoms Associated With Low-Level Exposure to Solvents and (Meth)acrylates Among Nail Technicians

LoSasso, Gina L.*; Rapport, Lisa J.*; Axelrod, Bradley N.

Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology & Behavioral Neurology: July-September 2001 - Volume 14 - Issue 3 - p 183-189
Original Articles

Objective To evaluate reports of neuropsychological symptoms among women occupationally exposed to products commonly used in nail studios.

Background Typical preparations found in nail studios contain a variety of organic solvents (e.g., toluene, acetone, formaldehyde) and (meth)acrylates with known neurotoxic properties. Little research has focused on the neuropsychological sequelae of exposure to these substances occurring in the cosmetics industry.

Method Participants included nail salon technicians (n = 150) and controls (n = 148). Nail technicians were compared with demographically similar controls using the Neuropsychological Impairment Scale, a self-reported measure of neuropsychological and psychological symptoms. Aspects of the workplace environment (e.g., square footage of the salon, adequacy of ventilation, hours worked) also were assessed.

Results A MANOVA revealed small but significant differences in the overall level of symptoms as well as in individual scales measuring neurologic complaints, cognitive efficiency, memory, verbal learning, and academic skills (p < 0.001). Moreover, nail technicians were significantly more likely to score above the clinical cutoffs than were controls on four of the seven clinical scales and two of the three summary indices. Multiple regression analysis indicated that the severity of symptoms was associated with level of occupational exposure (p < 0.01). The cumulative impact of workplace size and ventilation were most strongly associated with symptom severity.

Conclusions Exposure to low-level neurotoxins common to nail studios results in the self-reported experience of cognitive and neurologic symptoms similar to other types of solvent and (meth)acrylate exposure. The profile of reported symptoms is consistent with deficits typically observed in this type of neurotoxic exposure: neurologic complaints as well as perceived problems with cognitive efficiency, memory, and learning. Additionally, the nail technicians reported a higher overall level of complaints and greater severity of symptoms than did the controls.

*Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, and †Psychology Section, John D. Dingell Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Detroit, Michigan

Received December 15, 2000;

revised March 5, 2001; accepted March 15, 2001.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Lisa J. Rapport, Department of Psychology, 71 West Warren Avenue, Wayne State University, Detroit MI 48202; email:

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.