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Rethink Your Manicure

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Rethink Your Manicure

Chemical in nail polish might have harmful health effects

Before your next manicure, you might want to consider what’s in that polish.

A new study from Duke University researchers found high levels of the chemical compound triphenyl phosphate (or TPHP), known to disrupt the endocrine system, in the bodies of study participants after they polished their nails.

TPHP, commonly used as a flame retardant, was found in major nail polish brands like Revlon, Maybelline, Sally Hansen and Wet ‘n Wild. (Check this database to see if your brand uses TPHP).

“The levels [of TPHP] that we saw increase as a result of nail polish application went up by nearly seven-fold within 10 to 14 hours, so it was a significant increase. It was surprising because we really thought the main source of exposure was fire retardants,” study co-author Johanna Congleton said in an interview with KUNR Public Radio. “We thought inhalation would be a bigger concern and more of a route of exposure.”

But they were wrong. Absorption through the nails is cause for greater concern. TPHP could have serious side effects. Recent research on lab animals suggests the chemical can promote obesity, disrupt hormone activity and cause heart damage. Though human data is limited, a 2010 study found an association between TPHP in men and lower sperm counts. Another study from University of Michigan School of Public Health also found lower sperm counts in men exposed TPHP, as well as greater production of prolactin, a hormone that stimulates breast development.

Does this mean you have to give up manicures? We can’t make that decision for you, but the potential for heart damage, obesity, lower sperm counts and man boobs is enough to give us pause.

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BHM Edit Staff