May 8, 2015 11:42 AM EDT

Exposure to chemicals commonly found in nail polish and other manicure products can pose serious health risks to salon workers.

In the second part of a series on the profession’s risks, the New York Times says that workers frequently report health problems like persistent coughs, cancer, miscarriages and birth defects in their children. Several common chemicals pose an especially serious risk: formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate, which is banned in the E.U. The cosmetics industry disputes the danger of these chemicals. Studies have found that sometimes even products that claim to be free of these ingredients contain them, based on random tests.

While the levels of exposure may well be safe for women who get a weekly manicure, the risk is much higher for the workers who are exposed to them day in and day out, the Times reports.

Read more at the New York Times.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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