Study suggests health risks with nail care products - FOX 13 News

Study suggests health risks with nail care products

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A new study some finds some nail products aren't as safe as we think.

While your favorite salon may be a place of refuge, the powerful odors make it more like a chemistry lab.

Workers are exposed daily, and some get sick with headaches, dizziness, and nausea. It's why a California consumer group and the California Environmental Protection Agency tested 25 nail care products for chemicals, including what's called: The "toxic trio."

The first one is formaldehyde, which is more widely known as embalming fluid.

"Formaldehyde is used to prevent mold growth," says Dr. Raymond Harbison, a toxicologist at the University of South Florida.

An international group believes it may also cause cancer. Dr. Harbison disagrees with that, but he says it is likely to cause rashes, allergies and breathing problems.

"If you had a hyperactive airway or if you had asthma, certainly overexposure to formaldehyde could trigger an asthmatic attack," Harbison said.

Next in the trio: DBP, short for dibutyl phthalate.

"Phthalates are softeners that make the hardened surface flexible, so it doesn't break or crack," Dr. Harbison explained. Phthalates might affect hormones and an unborn baby, dubbing DBP a developmental toxin.

"That is all animal testing data. There really is no evidence in humans that it produces those effects, and phtalates of course are everywhere," Harbison said.

The final chemical of concern: toluene, a thinning agent. It's in some paints and certain aerosols used to clean our house.

"Toluene likewise is virtually everywhere," says Dr. Harbison, pointing out that motorists get a whiff of it every time they fill up their fuel tanks. "We're all exposed to toluene, but again, in a confined space or a workplace where lots of people are using these products, the levels may be significantly higher."

The California study found 10 of 12 products labeled "toluene-free" contained the chemical. Several of the products had labels saying "three free," meaning they did not contain any of the toxic trio.

However, five of the seven "...could not be substantiated."

"I think mislabeling is an unforgivable offense. I think everyone has a right to know what the constituents are," Harbison said.

The professional beauty association says it does not "...have reason to dispute ....(the)...results of the laboratory testing..."

However, the methods used in the health studies are " ....notoriously unreliable." They further state, that the six manufacturers with labeling errors, "...did not likely intentionally add such ingredients.."

"I think it's wrong when a company doesn't tell you what's in their product," says Frederic Ho of T & L Nails in Tampa. He says his company buys products based on safety. If the odors in the salon get too intense he says they open the doors.

Ho hasn't experienced health problems. However, he encourages customers to speak up.

"I always try and make everyone happy," Frederic says.

Health experts say the nail industry should heed the same advice.

"Thirty years ago, all of the paint products we used were petroleum based. Now we have a water based paint, so I think that there can certainly be lots of substitutions in those products," Dr. Harbison says.

Substitutions that could possibly lead to a safer experience.

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