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Ventilation Requirements

​​Nail Salon Ventilation Requirements

As of October 17, 2013, all nail salons in Boston must comply with the minimum ventilation specifications listed in the 2015 International Mechanical Code incorporated into the Building Code at 780 CMR and 271 CMR 6, as amended, by October 17, 2018.

According to the BPHC Nail Salon Regulation:

  • New salons applying for their first permit after October 17, 2013 must comply immediately, in order to receive their permit.
  • Any salon that had applied for a permit before October 17, 2013 has 5 years (until October 17, 2018) to achieve compliance.

To demonstrate compliance, all salons must submit:

  • A BPHC ventilation checklist that has been completed and stamped by a licensed  mechanical engineer
  • A mechanical engineer's report showing that the ventilation system meets the requirements

What kind of ventilation is required?

  • Mechanical ventilation system exhausts fumes to the exterior (0.6 CFM/FT²)
  • Mechanical ventilation system brings air into the salon (0.12 CFM/FT² + 20 CFM/occupant)
  • Makeup air and exhaust air ducts are separate; there is no mixing, recirculating, or partial makeup air
  • Source capture at manicure tables and foot baths (capable of exhausting a minimum of 50 CFM per station)

What is source capture?

Source capture takes in air at the point of service and exhausts it out of the salon​

  • Point of service: Where nail services are offered within the salon space (manicure stations, pedicure stations)

The air must be exhausted to the outside of the s​alon after it is captured

  • Captured air may not mix with the salon air or recirculate back into the salon space
Click here to view examples of ​compliant ​source capture in nail salons, as well as to learn more about what will not comply.

Why are these change important?
Nail salons use products that contain harmful chemicals. Without proper ventilation, nail salon workers and clients are exposed to these chemicals for a longer amount of time. Chemical exposures can "add up," especially when multiple products are being used at the same time or when the products are being used every day. The International Mechanical Code's requirements decrease the amount of exposure workers and clients face.

Where can I find more information?
Refer to the International Mechanical Code​, Chapter 4 Ventilation​, for more detailed information. Also, feel free to refer to the Boston Public Health Commission Nail Salon Regulation as well as the Guidelines (Vietnamese here) for implementation and enforcement of BPHC's Nail Salon Regulation. If you have questions about ventilation in nail salons​, please call the Safe Shops Program at 617-534-5965.
Boston Public Health Commission
1010 Massachusetts Ave, 6th Floor, Boston, MA 02118.
Phone:(617) 534-5395 Email: