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California seeks to ban controversial nail polish chemical

The State of California announced plans on Friday to ban a chemical vital to the makeup of many commercial nail polishes. Toluene, a chemical used to “create a smooth look and clear colors”, is the chemical drawing the ire of California regulators.

If state regulators get their wish, in four years’ time, nail polishes and products sold in the state would no longer contain toluene. Toluene has been linked to birth defects and miscarriages, as well as organ damage. Many experts believe nail polishes and associated products often contain a “toxic trio” consisting of not only toluene, but also formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate. The trio of toxins is banned in most countries, but not in the United States. Toluene in nail polish is a threat to not only customers, but also nail salon workers as “there are an estimated 130,000 nail salon workers in the state of California”, with a majority of them being women of “child-bearing age”.

The Personal Care Products Council makes up 90 percent of the nail polish manufacturers in the United Sates. Lisa Powers of the PCPC told the San Francisco Chronicle “We phased it out.” Although, the Personal Care Products Council says the change wasn’t made for health reasons. Instead it was made simply because “customers told us they didn’t want it.”

It’s good to see that manufacturers have already taken steps to eliminate hazardous toxins from everyday products like nail polishes. Let’s hope they follow through on their plans so regulators don’t have to force their hand.

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