25 August 2012

Nail Polish & Remover

Nail polish looks lovely in the bottle and even prettier when applied to freshly manicured nails, but the health implications of a bottle of nail polish may not be so attractive. The potent smell that almost knocks you over when you open a bottle is due to array of potentially toxic chemicals found in some bottles of nail color. So what are the dangers of nail polish and should you expose yourself to this product?

Women pamper themselves with manicures and pedicures for special occasions or even just for everyday wear. However, women may not know the health hazards related to nail polish. The Northern California Cancer Center and Asian Health Services of Oakland conducted a survey in 2009 on women who work in nail salons. The survey found that although salon workers wear face masks, they suffered acute health effects from the chemicals and toxins in nail care products. Women, who are exposed to nail polish toxins only briefly at home, may not be at the same risk as salon workers. However, research is ongoing and women at home should still be aware of the health risks.

Constituents :

Most nail polishes are made of nitrocellulose dissolved in a solvent (e.g. butyl acetate or ethyl acetate) and either left clear or colored with various pigments. Basic components included are: film forming agents, resins and plasticizers, solvents, and coloring agents. Adhesive polymers (e.g. tosylamide-formaldehyde resin) ensure that the nitrocellulose adheres to the nail's surface. Plasticizers (e.g. camphor) are chemicals that link between polymer chains, spacing them to make the film sufficiently flexible after drying. Pigments and sparkling particles (e.g. mica) add desired color and reflecting characteristics. Thickening agents (e.g. stearalkonium hectorite) are added to maintain the sparkling particles in suspension while in the bottle. Ultraviolet stabilizers (e.g. benozophenone-1) resist color changes when the dry film is exposed to direct sunlight.

Nail polish ingredients often include toluene. Solvents such as toluene and xylene are petroleum-based products that have been linked to cancer. Formaldehyde (formalin) may cause allergic reactions and is unsafe for use by asthmatic people. It is a carcinogen.

Water-based nail polish is based on an acrylic polymer emulsion (e.g. styrene-acrylate copolymer), and pigments similar to those used in watercolor paints This is marketed as an environmentally-conscious product, since nail polish is considered a hazardous waste by some regulatory bodies. In this application, the solvent (water) does not completely evaporate as in the case of the traditional nail polish; part of the water is absorbed through the fingernail.
  1. Dibutyl Phthalates
    • Dibutyl Phthalates are chemicals found in most nail polishes. DBPs have been linked to early puberty in girls and uterine problems in women, according to Health problems in men have also been linked to this chemical such as testicular cancer and low sperm count. Extended exposure to DBPs can cause immediate effects like nausea, vomiting, headaches and dizziness. However, there are also long-term consequences in exposure to this chemical such as kidney and liver damage. Pregnant women are warned about birth defects cause by Dibutyl Phthalates.
    • Toluene is a chemical used in nail polish. It is a clear and colorless liquid used to make dyes and paints. Toluene is also used for paint thinners and explosives. This dangerous chemical has been known to affect the function of the central nervous system, according to Exposure to toluene can cause headaches, fatigue and dizziness. This chemical in nail polish has also been linked to kidney and liver failure.
    • One of the ingredients in nail polish is formaldehyde. This chemical is used for its preservative qualities. However, formaldehyde can cause dangerous health effects. Exposure to the chemical can cause wheezing, coughing and irritation to the throat, according to Formaldehyde is also harmful when it comes into direct contact with skin. Skin irritation and rashes occur from exposure to this chemical.
The Dangers of Nail Polish:
Although most nail polishes contain a variety of chemicals, the one that's received the most scrutiny is one called dibutyl phthalate or DBP. DBP is a member of a group of substances known as phthalates, chemicals which are added to plastics to soften and make them more malleable. Phthalates are of concern in humans because they have the potential to disrupt hormone levels in the human body and potentially cause birth defects in children and cancer in humans. They've also been demonstrated to cause liver toxicity in rats and are thought to play a role in childhood asthma. Phthalates are of such concern that they've been banned from use in cosmetics in Europe. Unfortunately, our FDA hasn't been so quick to respond and continues to allow this chemical to be added to nail polish as well as other cosmetics.

If you plan on painting your nails, keep the dangers of nail polish in mind, particularly if you're pregnant. Because of the association of DBP with birth defects, it would be wise to avoid using any nail polish that's not designated to be free of DBP, toluene, and formaldehyde and to avoid nail salons where these products might be used. To verify this, it would be worthwhile to call the company before purchasing or buy natural nail polishes from your local natural food market. All nail care products should be used in a room with good ventilation.

Nail polish can put one in risk of multiple health problems. This is a result of the multiple harmful chemicals found in nail polish. Ingredients  such as Toluene, formaldehyde, and Acetone have serious effects and can cause nervous system problems, eye irritation, throat and lungs irritation, allergic reactions, cancer, heart problems, and thyroid disorders. Nail polish is especially potentially harmful to pregnant women because of the chemical, dibutyl phthalate or DBP, which in a lab study found that the chemical caused lab animals to produce a higher number of offspring with birth defects, especially in males. Another study found that this chemical could cause premature puberty in young girls. Therefore, it is essential that before buying nail polish, one reads the ingredients and chemicals in the product.

Nail polish remover :

Nail polish is removed with nail polish remover or nail pads, which is an organic solvent, but may also include oils, scents and coloring. Nail polish remover packages may include individual felt pads soaked in remover, a bottle of liquid remover that can be used with a cotton ball or cotton pad, and even containers filled with foam that can be used by inserting a finger into the container and twisting until the polish comes off.
The most common type of nail polish remover contains acetone. It is powerful and effective, but is harsh on skin and nails, which can even make them more brittle. Acetone is considered a volatile organic compound by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It can also be used to remove artificial nails, which are usually made of acrylic.

The common alternative is simply called "non-acetone nail polish remover", which usually contains ethyl acetate. This is a less aggressive solvent and can therefore be used to remove nail polish from artificial nails.

Acetonitrile has been used as a nail polish remover, but is thought to be more toxic. It has been banned in the European Economic Area for cosmetics since 17 March 2000

Trivia :

Don't take chances with your health. Keep the dangers of nail polish and remover in mind when you shop for or use nail care products. Select your polishes wisely and use them safely. Beautiful nails aren't worth the potential health risks.

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