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NYC Public Advocate Unveils New Pilot Program To Improve Nail Salon Air Quality

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- With a statewide crackdown on nail salons resulting in hundreds of violations, city officials are now turning to another pressing question in salons.

Air quality.

As CBS2's Marcia Kramer found out on Wednesday, there is a new pilot program to ensure your health remains the right shade of safe.

The pilot program is the brainchild of Public Advocate Letitia James. She wants to harness new technology -- the ability to put an air quality sensor in a lamp -- to make daily air quality information available and create an incentive for salons to improve ventilation.

"The way that it works is the chemicals in the air will be tied to your electronic and it will emote certain faces, a smiley face or a frown. A smiley face will indicate the air quality is fine," James said.

The device looks like a desk lamp, but it will have a sensor to detect certain cancer-causing chemicals in the air inside salons. It will alert everyone, including manicurists, their customers and their bosses, if air quality reaches dangerous levels, telling them:

"They need to check the flow of air. They need to have the air conditioner on; they need to open up some windows. They need to wear masks," James said.

About 35 salons will get the new devices in January as part of a pilot program backed by the Clinton Global Initiative and funded by a private equity firm.

It comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo's new nail salon enforcement task force is handing out hundreds of violations.

Since it started in August, the task force has inspected 182 salons and handed out 901 violations, including 423 for health and safety issues, Kramer reported.

Experts applaud the new pilot program.

"I think it's about time someone stepped in and saved the client and particularly saved the people that work in these salons," said Dr. Howard Sobel, an attending dermatologic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Sobel said when nails are filed the particles in the air are very dangerous.

"People that work in nail salons have an increased incidence of respiratory infections, miscarriages, skin infections and cancers," Sobel said.

The public advocate stressed that participation in the program will be voluntary, but she hopes many will want to.

"I'm very excited. You know, technology can revolutionize our lives and improve our lives in so many areas," James said.

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