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.
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).