Some Nail Polishes in Calif. Salons Contain Toxins, Report Finds

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Certain nail polishes commonly found in California salons have high levels of toxins associated with health problems, according to a report from the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, AP/U-T San Diego reports.

The report found that the nail products -- many of which are advertised as being free of certain toxins -- have the potential to harm thousands of residents working in 48,000 nail salons in the state, as well as their customers (Dearen, AP/U-T San Diego, 4/10). According to the Los Angeles Times, there are about 120,000 licensed nail technicians in California (Gorman, Los Angeles Times, 4/10).

Investigators examined 25 brands of nail polish at random, including several with labels saying the products are free of formaldehyde, toluene and dibutyl phthalate -- known as the "toxic trio." Exposure to large amounts of the chemicals has been linked to developmental problems, asthma and other illnesses, according to regulators.

Key Findings

The report found that:

  • Five of seven products claiming to be "free of the toxic three" actually contained one or more of the toxins in significant levels; and
  • 10 of 12 products labeled as not having toluene actually contained it, with four of the products having dangerous levels of the toxin.

Response to Report

Julia Liou -- co-founder of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative and a public health administrator for Asian Health Services -- said in a statement, "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."

Meanwhile, Mike Vo -- vice president of Miss Professional Nail Products, the maker of certain polishes found by DTSC to contain toxins -- disputed the findings and said that his organization plans to challenge the report (AP/U-T San Diego, 4/10).

Call for Legislation

In response to the report, state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) called for legislation to end mislabeling of nail products that contain toxins.

Adam Keigwin -- Yee's chief of staff -- said Yee's office is exploring strategies for addressing the problem, such as higher fines for mislabeling nail products, a chemical ban or sanctions for distributors of foreign products (Jewett, California Watch, 4/11).


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