The study relates to toxic ingredients toluene, formaldehyde and dibutyl phthalate (DBP), found in nail care products that claim to be free of them.
Chronic or extended exposure to these chemicals has been associated with birth defects, asthma and other chronic health conditions, which DTSC says could affect salon workers in particular, with high levels of toluene and DBP found in products in North California.
Mislabelling and misbranding
"Thousands of women and young girls buy these particular brands believing that they are safe," said DTSC director Debbie Raphael.
"Our study shows there is a failure of some manufacturers to know what is in their products, and a failure to accurately state what is in them. These chemicals are present, sometimes in high quantities. This is a distressing pattern that we wish to highlight and work to address."
Laboratory testing conducted on behalf of DTSC shows that consumers, nail care salons and cosmetology schools cannot rely on the ‘toxic-free’ claims made by many nail care products.
Need to be accountable
DTSC sampled 25 nail care products from six Bay Area locations. Twelve products claimed to be free of at least one of the three ingredients in question.
However, 10 of the 12 products contained toluene, and four of the 12 contained DBP. And according to DTSC, some of the ‘toxic-free’ products actually contained higher levels of DBP or toluene than products which made no toxic-free claims.
"We are alarmed by the results of this report," said Julia Liou, co-founder of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative.
"This is a clear signal that cosmetic manufacturers need to be held accountable for their actions. The misbranding of products is not only a major public health problem, but also interferes with a salon worker's right to a safe and healthy work environment."