Take a look at your hands, what do they look like?
If you’re a woman, your fingernails are probably painted with nail polish.
In many career environments and social circles, nail polish is seen as an essential part of proper hygiene and presentation. But this social expectation has serious health effects.
A new study conducted by Duke University and the Environmental Working Group and published in Environment International found that chemicals in nail polish can enter the bloodstream in noticeable amounts within as little as two hours of application.
The study examined the urine samples of 24 women for diphenyl phosphate or DPHP, which forms when the body metabolizes TPHP, a chemical toxin found in nearly every person on earth. Within 10-14 hours of nail polish application, serum levels of DPHP had increased by nearly sevenfold (1).
The chemicals can contribute towards infertility, hormone-related cancers like breast and ovarian cancer, prostate conditions, thyroid disorders, neurological issues, diabetes, and even obesity (2).
“Nails aren’t permeable to most molecules, but TPHP could be absorbed into the cuticle or around the nail,” says Johanna Congleton, a senior scientist with EWG who also worked on the study.
They also make their way into the bloodstream after being inhaled (in the case of being in a closed room or nail salon during application) or being ingested (by nail biting).
“It is very troubling that nail polish being marketed to women and teenage girls contains a suspected endocrine disruptor,” says Johanna Congleton, Ph.D., MSPH, a senior scientist at EWG and co-author of the study. “It is even more troubling to learn that their bodies absorb this chemical relatively quickly after they apply a coat of polish.”
Although the chemical isn’t a necessary ingredient, it functions as a plasticizer in nail polish to increase its flexibility and durability.
After the initial study, the same group of researchers examined 10 different nail polishes for triphenyl phosphate, and discovered the chemical in 8 of the samples tested.
Two of the polishes that tested positively for the chemical did not disclose it on their product label.
These brands were easily available in drug stores and beauty shops throughout North America.