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EPA $100K grant to help make nail salons safer for patrons and workers in King County


Both patrons and staff of nail salons in King County, Washington, will soon breathe a little easier, thanks to a $100,000 EPA Collaborative Problem-Solving Grant. The grant was awarded to the Environmental Coalition of South Seattle (ECOSS), as part of EPA’s Environmental Justice Program. The grant awarded to ECOSS is one of 10 awarded to community-based, non-profit organizations across the country. Each received $100,000 EPA Environmental Justice Grants by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The grant was awarded with a local nail salon, Northbend Nails, as a backdrop in Seattle’s Rainier Valley. The grant was given under EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving program that supports environment and public health improvements in low-income communities around the nation.

“These grants provide resources for communities to take an active role in solving local environmental problems,” said Elin Miller EPA’s NW Regional Administrator in Seattle. “This project is about protecting people where they live. It will help South Seattle salon owners, technicians and neighbors make changes to reduce their exposure to nail salon toxics.”

The “Toxic Beauty” Project will improve human health and the environment in nail salons located in low-income communities and communities of color in the Seattle and South Seattle areas. This project’s intent is to work with over 70 Vietnamese owned and operated nail salons in these areas. Expected beneficial outcomes will include:

Reduced exposure to toxic chemicals in women of color who work in and patronize nail salons in EJ communities
Increased awareness of safer alternatives for salon owners
Healthier air inside the salons through behavior changes of workers and owner/operators

According to ECOSS Executive Director, Charlie Cunniff, “We are grateful that the EPA has funded this project, which will address a key environmental justice issue in our community. ECOSS and our partner, the Community Coalition for Environmental Justice (CCEJ), will use multi-lingual outreach to educate nail salon owners, technicians, and clients. We hope that through this collaboration, we can help businesses make changes that will result in a healthier environment for all.”

In 2007, EPA awarded $1 million in grants across the country for improving the environment in low income communities. Financial assistance under the Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving program is available to all non-profit organizations designated by the IRS or recognized by the state, territory, commonwealth or tribe in which it is located.

The purpose of the funding is to assist affected communities so they can develop new approaches to environmental justice issues and to achieve community health and sustainability. Since 1994, EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving program has provided more than $31 million in funding to more than 1,100 community-based organizations.


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