California study finds toxins in 'nontoxic' nail polishes

April 11, 2012 12:06:48 AM PDT
In the nail salon industry, more and more customers and workers are demanding that products be free of what's called the toxic-trio: toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate, known as DBP.

In a random sampling, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control found 10 of 12 products that claimed to be free of at least one of those chemicals... actually were not.

Karl Palmer with the California Department of Toxic Substance Control told Action News, "We care about those things because those are hazardous chemicals that can cause harm to people. Simply, they cause reproductive toxicity. They cause harm to women who might be pregnant, and over the long term and with enough exposure, they're just bad for you."

The state says there are about 48,000 nails salons in California and more than 100,000 licensed nail technicians, most of whom are young Asian-American women working in tight quarters, many poorly ventilated.

Julia Liou with Asian Health Services said, "It interferes with nail salon workers right to a healthy and safe workplace environment and a worker's right to know."

Some employees wear masks to shield them from the chemicals, but most do not.

Miss Professional Nail Products, which makes some of the products on the state list, told the Associated Press it disputes the report's findings and will challenge it.

Customer Allyson Witt says it's good to know when something is harmful, but doesn't see many women changing their habits. "To be honest, I guess vanity comes into it and the pampering. It's just being honest."

Still, activists say more needs to be done.

Julia Liou told Action News, "We're calling for the prioritization of increased resources for government agencies to conduct random ingredient testing, and we're calling for enforcement of false advertising laws."

The Attorney General will now examine the data before making any decision on legal action. Proposition 65 is a state law that requires manufacturers to disclose harmful chemicals in their products."


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