A recent report by the Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) showed that as much as two-thirds of nail polish currently sold on the market contain chemical substances that could potentially heighten the risk of cancer.
Aided by celebrity endorsement and fashion trends, nail art has become popular among young women in recent years. However, many people are unaware that certain types of nail polish contain toxins that disrupt a person’s endocrine system and can be especially hazardous to pregnant women or nail artists who are constantly exposed to the chemicals.
A report by the council’s Institute of Occupational Safety and Health showed that a majority of the types of nail polish that are marketed or used by professional nail salons contain environmental hormones, or chemicals that act as endocrine disruptors, which can increase the risk of cancer.
The report showed that the amount of phthalate esters contained in some nail polish are 100 times higher than the maximum allowed by health authorities. Phthalates, which are sometimes added to nail polish to increase its flexibility and allow the surface of the polished nail to appear glossy and smooth, have been shown to be disruptive to hormonal levels and cause birth defects.
“Women who are over-exposed to [such chemicals] may have a higher risk of breast cancer or endometrial cancer [cancer in the lining of the uterus],” said Lin Ja-liang (林杰樑), a clinical toxicology specialist at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Linkou.
Lin suggests avoiding nail polish, especially those that have a stringent smell. When putting on nail polish, nail artists should wear gloves to protect their hands from over-exposure to hazardous chemicals. It is also important to avoid painting nails in a room without fresh air flow. Lin also recommends women avoid using nail polish when pregnant to minimize the chance of birth defects.
Hsieh Tien-jen (謝天仁), chairman of the Consumers’ Foundation, criticized the Department of Health for not effectively protecting consumers from harmful substances by regulating the contents of nail polish on the market. He urged health authorities to step up inspections of cosmetics and publish information on harmful brands and products.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF REPORTER HUNG SU-CHING
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