Harvard Women's Health Watch

“Nontoxic” nail polishes may still contain unsafe chemicals

Research we’re watching

Even so-called nontoxic nail polishes may still contain toxic ingredients, says a study published October 10 in Environmental Science and Technology. In the early 2000s, some nail polish makers decided to start removing three problematic chemicals — dibutyl phthalate, toluene, and formaldehyde — from their products. These new formulations were often labeled as “3-free.” Yet subsequent testing showed that some of these polishes still contained these chemicals. This study found that manufacturers replaced these ingredients with new chemicals that may also bring health risks, including triphenyl phosphate and the potentially cancer-causing chemical didiethylhexyl phthalate.

The study authors say that additional action is needed to better protect both consumers and nail salon workers.

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