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Is nail polish becoming increasingly dangerous?

Many of our readers have heard about the potential dangers for people who work in nail salons. They're inhaling and touching strong chemicals from polishes and other materials all day long. What about those who go into a salon for a mani-pedi or do their own nails? Can nail polish be dangerous to those who are simply wearing it?

There's no definitive answer. However, it's important to understand that our body is absorbing the chemicals in the polish on our nails. We may not think of nails as particularly absorbent parts of our body, unlike skin. However, some of the solvents and other materials used on them during a mani-pedi can, over time, wear down the enamel of nails and make it more easy to permeate.

The chemical that has raised particular concern is called triphenyl phosphate. This chemical, which is included about half of the polishes that have been studied by the Environmental Working Group, is used to improve the adhesiveness of the polish to the nail.

Triphenyl phosphate has been used in various products for over a century. However, recent studies have shown that it may disrupt hormones as it's absorbed into a person's system over time.

One research scientist with the Cancer Prevention Institute of California notes that there is a larger amount of TPP in nail polishes than there previously was. Ironically, this has occurred because companies are phasing out another chemical, dibutyl phthalate, which was found to be a hormone disruptor. He and others contend that nail polish makers are simply replacing one toxic substance with another, perhaps more dangerous, one.

Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates nail products, says that the chemicals in polishes aren't harmful as long as the product is used as intended. However, if you work in a Chicago-area salon around nail polish all day or even if you treat yourself to a weekly manicure, it's worth keeping an eye out to see if new findings emerge. Sadly, it often takes one person or a group of people being harmed by a dangerous product before changes are made.

Source: Huffington Post, "Yes, Chemicals In Nail Polish Can Leach Into Your Body," Anna Almendrala, Oct. 23, 2015

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