VOC emissions from nail salon products and their effective removal using affordable adsorbents and synthetic jets

A. Lamplugh, M. Harries, A. Nguyen, L. D. Montoya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like acetone, ethyl and n-butyl acetate, toluene, and formaldehyde have been measured inside nail salons, where they are emitted from nail care products. Exposure to these compounds can have negative health impacts on both workers and costumers, as well as the environment. The objectives of this research were to characterize VOC emissions from typical nail care products and to investigate VOC removal by 3 low-cost adsorbent materials (coco coir, biochar, and activated carbon). The removal studies were performed using acetone as the model VOC in both chamber experiments and mathematical models. The chamber experiments were conducted under both passive and active flow conditions using synthetic jet actuators to determine the effect of local ventilation on the rate of removal. Mass-normalized adsorption rates were determined for acetone using nth-order rate equations. Adsorption rate models were then developed for all adsorbent materials under both flow conditions and used to estimate the effect of low-cost adsorbents in an actual nail salon. Activated carbon provided the best VOC removal compared to the other 2 adsorbent materials tested. The use of active flow with synthetic jets was also shown to enhance adsorption processes for both biochar and activated carbon, but not for coco coir. Model results predicted activated carbon with active flow enhancement could achieve an effective ventilation rate of nearly 300 m3 h−1 if 250 kg were placed in a 1400 m3 salon.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106499
JournalBuilding and Environment
StatePublished - Jan 15 2020


  • Active flow
  • Adsorption
  • Biochar
  • Coco coir
  • Cosmetics
  • Passive removal


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