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Secret Hazard of Nail Polish

Beware of nail polish because it may be contaminating your body with an endocrine disrupting chemical.  A study co-authored by researchers at Duke University and Environmental Working Group (EWG) detected evidence of a common nail polish chemical called triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP, in the bodies of every woman who volunteered to paint her nails for the study.There is growing evidence suggesting that TPHP may affect hormone regulation, metabolism, reproduction and development. Unfortunately, even if it is not listed on the label, it may still be in the product. It is also used as a fire retardant (and the evidence from studies says to avoid fire retardants). Go to the EWG site for more on nail polish brands.From Environmental Working Group (EWG):

Duke-EWG Study Finds Toxic Nail Polish Chemical In Women’s Bodies

Researchers at Duke University and Environmental Working Group have found evidence of a suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical widely used in popular nail polishes in the bodies of more than two-dozen women who participated in a biomonitoring study. The study, published today in Environment International, found that all women had a metabolite of triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP, in their bodies just 10 to 14 hours after painting their nails. Their levels of diphenyl phosphate or DPHP, which forms when the body metabolizes TPHP, had increased by nearly sevenfold.

According to EWG’s Skin Deep® cosmetics database, more than 1,500 nail products including polishes made by Sally Hansen, OPI and Wet N Wild, contain TPHP. Click here for a list of brands that list TPHP as an ingredient. More nail polishes may contain undisclosed TPHP.  The Duke-EWG study tested 10 polishes for TPHP and found the chemical in eight of them. Two of the eight with TPHP did not list the ingredient on their labels. 

A number of laboratory studies have found that exposure to TPHP caused endocrine disruption. In animal studies, it has caused reproductive and developmental problems. Recent scientific research suggests that TPHP may contribute to weight gain and obesity. The chemical probably functions as a plasticizer in nail polish, rendering it more flexible and durable.  For years, it has been is used in plastics manufacturing and as a fire retardant in foam furniture.

“It is possible that TPHP is now being used in nail polish as a replacement for phthalates, which also have endocrine-disrupting properties and are toxic to the reproductive system,” said Heather Stapleton, Ph.D., associate professor at Duke University and principal investigator of the Duke-EWG study. “However, it’s not clear that TPHP is the better alternative. There is growing evidence suggesting that TPHP may affect hormone regulation, metabolism, reproduction and development.

The new study raises the prospect that millions of American teens, tweens and even younger girls are being exposed to a suspected hormone-disrupting chemical at a time when their bodies are rapidly developing and entering puberty.  Nails Magazine, a nail salon industry trade publication, reported in August, 2014, that according to market surveys an overwhelming 97 percent of American girls ages 12 to 14 used nail products, including polish, and 14 percent of all teens and tweens used them daily....Today, EWG launched a consumer petition to press companies that make popular nail polish brands to stop using TPHP. Click here to sign the petition. 

More on this topic from Environmental Working Group (EWG):  NAILED: NAIL POLISH CHEMICAL DOUBLES AS FURNITURE FIRE RETARDANT

A study co-authored by researchers at Duke University and EWG has detected evidence of a common nail polish chemical called triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP, in the bodies of every woman who volunteered to paint her nails for the study. The results represent compelling evidence that TPHP, a suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical also used in plastics manufacturing and as a fire retardant in foam furniture, enters the human body via nail polish

TPHP is listed on the ingredient labels of a wide array of nail polishes now on the market. Fully 49 percent of more than 3,000 nail polishes and treatments compiled in EWG’s Skin Deep database disclose that they contain TPHP....The manufacturers likely added TPHP as a plasticizer, to render their polishes more flexible and durable. The concentrations in the eight nail polishes with TPHP ranged from 0.49 percent to 1.68 percent by weight.  Clear polishes generally contained more TPHP than colored polishes.

Urine tests have found that Americans are extensively exposed to TPHP, probably because it is a common plasticizer and fire retardant often applied to foam cushioning in furniture. A recent biomonitoring study by Duke scientists who investigated TPHP exposure in adults found significantly higher levels of DPHP in women than in men who were tested in a separate study. These findings suggest that women may absorb more TPHP through personal care products, such as nail polish, that are marketed specifically to women.

Another biomonitoring study conducted last year by Duke and EWG researchers found DPHP, the metabolite of TPHP, in the urine of 95 percent of the adults and 100 percent of the children who participated (Butt 2014). A separate study by scientists from Duke University and the University of North Carolina found DPHP in more than 90 percent of samples collected from pregnant women (Hoffman 2014). An Australian study found DPHP in more than 95 percent of samples tested, and researchers in Asia found TPHP in 86 percent of breast milk samples from Japan, the Philippines and Vietnam (Kim 2014, Van den Eede 2015).

Two to six hours after they painted their nails, 24 of the 26 volunteers in the study had slightly elevated levels of DPHP in their urine. Ten to 14 hours after polishing their nails, the DPHP levels in all 26 participants had risen by an average of nearly sevenfold, suggesting that more of the TPHP had entered their bodies and been metabolized into DPHP. Four volunteers collected urine over 48 hours. For three of the four, their concentrations of DPHP peaked between 10 and 20 hours after painting their nails. These results indicate that nail polish may be an important contributor to short-term TPHP exposure. For frequent users of nail polish, exposure to TPHP may be a long-term hazard.

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