Salons urged to use latest machines adhering to international standards

By Jane Babirye
On 13 August 2023 at 07:22

A recent study published in January by the ’Nature Communications’ journal indicated that the Ultraviolet (UV) light used in nail dryers might damage DNA and potentially cause cancer-causing mutations in human cells.

However, many women still prefer UV nail dryers claiming the gel polish lasts longer and looks better than other options.

We spoke with some of them to determine their awareness of the potential risks they expose themselves to.

Betty Isimbi, a university student in Kigali, told IGIHE that she has heard about the health risks posed by UV machines to her skin but has chosen to overlook it. "Everything nowadays is said to be causing cancer, not to mention death. Until I see someone who has died as a result of doing their nails. I don’t think I’m yet ready to stop doing mine," she remarked with a laugh.

Charlene Furaha, also a university student, mentioned she first learned about the news from her neighbors. Later, when she asked her favorite nail technician about it, he told her, "These are just rumors with business-oriented motives. Maybe another company has a new product in stock, and the claims about the harm of the current machines are propaganda to get them off the market."

Gloria Mutesi acknowledged the health risks of using gel polish but stated that regardless of the potential consequences, she won’t stop doing her nails.

According to ’Nature Communications’, research conducted by scientists from the University of California San Diego and the University of Pittsburgh suggests that prolonged use of UV machines can lead to DNA damage and mutations in human cells, possibly increasing the risk of skin cancer.

The researchers tested three different cell types, including two from humans and one from mice, with varying levels of UV exposure. Under acute exposure, the cells were exposed to a UV machine for 20 minutes, taken out for an hour, and then placed back in for another 20 minutes. Under chronic exposure, they were subjected to the machine for 20 minutes daily over three days. The research found that a single 20-minute session resulted in 20-30% cell death, while three consecutive sessions caused 65-70% of the exposed cells to die.

Speaking to IGIHE, Philbert Zimulinda, National Metrology Services Division Manager at Rwanda Standards Board (RSB), urged salons and distributors to invest in the latest UV machines that adhere to international standards to mitigate the risk of cancer among users.

"The technology of UV machines has been periodically reviewed since 2006, 2013, and recently in 2022. The latest machines clearly indicate the drying time for each product (gel polish): 30 seconds, 60 seconds, and 90 seconds," he stated.

Zimulinda emphasized that as RSB, it’s their responsibility to keep the public informed about the latest findings and technological improvements to ensure people’s safety. He also mentioned that RSB collaborates closely with regulators like Rwanda Inspectorate, Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (RICA), and Food and Drug Administration (Rwanda FDA) to inspect salons and regulate the import of substandard UV machines.

"We’ve shared international import standards with RICA to enforce import standards," he noted. "The 2022 import standard consists of two parts: visible labeling of information for consumers and indicated tests from the manufacturer," Zimulinda added.

Research indicates that prolonged use of UV machines can lead to DNA damage and mutations in human cells, possibly increasing the risk of skin cancer. Net Photo