Nail polishes advertised to be free of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems actually have high levels of rtoxins, according to a report by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.
The chemicals toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and formaldehyde, better known as the toxic trio, were found in many of the 25 brands tested by the department. Ten of the 12 that claimed to be free of toluene contained the chemical -- four had dangerously high levels, according to the report. Products making a toxic-trio related claim had higher concentrations of DBP than products making no claim at all, investigators found.
The toxic trio is linked to memory loss, blindness, brain lesions, cancer and birth defects, according to the report. While the department could not estimate how many people are being exposed to the chemicals, it said the 121,000 licensed nail care technicians who work in salons are at risk.
We know there are exposures at salons, both to workers and customers, and we're concerned about potential harm, said Karl Palmer, the department's pollution prevention performance manager, told the Associated Press. Our strategy first and foremost is to shed light on the reality of what's in these products and put this information out to everyone.
Miss Professional Nail Products, Inc, maker of Sation and other products claiming to be free of the toxic trio, told the Associated Press they will challenge the findings, but did not elaborate as to what specifically they would challenge. A request for comment from Miss Professional Nail Products was not immediately returned.
The use of the chemicals is not illegal, but could violate California's Proposition 65, which mandates that all harmful chemicals in a product be listed by the manufacturer, according to the report. The attorney general will decide what, if any, legal measures are taken.
We are alarmed by the results of this report, Julia Liou, co-founder of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative, a salon worker advocacy group, told the Los Angeles Times. The misbranding of products is not only a major public health problem, but also interferes with a salon worker's right to a safe and healthy work environment.
Products that erroneously claim to be free of the chemicals include:
- Sation 99 basecoat
- Sation 53 red-pink nail color
- Dare to Wear nail lacquer
- Chelsea 650 Baby's Breath Nail Lacquer
- New York Summer Nail Color
- Paris Spicy 298 nail lacquer
- Sunshine nail lacquer
- Cacie Light Free Gel Basecoat
- Cacie Sun Protection Topcoat
- Golden Girl Topcoat
- Nail Art Top-N-Seal
- High Gloss Topcoat