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Nail polish: a source of exposure to endocrine disruptors

© Thinkstock/L'Observatoire des Cosmétiques

According to a study conducted par researchers of the university of Duke and EWG (Environmental Working Group), a plasticizer used in nail polishes and a suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical, Triphenyl phosphate (TPHP), is found in the urine of women a few hours after application. An evidence that this chemical is absorbed by the body, and a worrying source of exposure for women and young girls.

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The manufacturers likely added TPHP as a plasticizer, to render their polishes more flexible and durable. Nail polish manufacturers may have turned to TPHP as a replacement plasticizer for Dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, that was added to polish to improve flexibility. This chemical fell out of use in nail polish because highly publicized scientific studies showed that DBP and other phthalates are likely endocrine disruptors and toxic to the reproductive system.
Most studies of TPHP involve investigations of its effects on cells and test animals. A few have associated the chemical with changes in the hormone and reproductive systems of humans. TPHP is also used in plastics manufacturing and as a fire retardant in foam furniture.

This study was conducted on 26 volunteers. Researchers tested the urine of 26 women volunteers before and after they applied nail polish. Technically, they looked for a chemical called Diphenyl phosphate (DPHP), which is created when the body metabolizes TPHP.

To investigate how TPHP from nail polish was absorbed into the body, study participants collected urine samples before and after they applied a polish that was about 1 percent TPHP by weight. When the participants wore gloves and applied polish to synthetic nails, their …

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