Mislabelled nail products have the potential to harm thousands of women who work in more than 48,000 nail salons in California, and their customers.
Nail polishes commonly found in California salons and advertised as free of three specific chemicals called the 'toxic trio' have been tested by the Department of Toxic Substances Control.
More than a handful of nail polish labels were found to actually have high levels of agents linked to birth defects, according to state chemical regulators.
Dangerous manicures: Mislabelled nail polishes found in California salons were found to have high levels of agents linked to birth defects
Investigators chose 25 brands at random, including a number of products claiming to be free of the three chemicals toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBP) and formaldehyde, which are known as the toxic trio.
The three chemicals in nail products is not illegal if properly labeled, however the report determined many nail polishes were in violation of a state law that requires disclosure of harmful chemicals in consumer products.
Investigators found that 10 of 12 products that claimed to be free of toluene actually contained it, with four of the products having dangerously high levels.
The report also found that five of seven products that claimed to be 'free of the toxic three' actually included one or more of the agents in significant levels.
Karl Palmer, the DTSC's pollution prevention performance manager who oversaw the report said, 'We know there are exposures at salons, both to workers and customers, and we're concerned about potential harm.
'Our strategy first and foremost is to shed light on the reality of what's in these products and put this information out to everyone,' he added.
Among the products tested that the state says were mislabeled were: Sation 99 basecoat, Sation 53 red-pink nail color, Dare to Wear nail lacquer, Chelsea 650 Baby's Breath Nail Lacquer, New York Summer Nail Color, Paris Spicy 298 nail lacquer, Sunshine nail lacquer, Cacie Light Free Gel Basecoat, Cacie Sun Protection Topcoat, Golden Girl Topcoat, Nail Art Top-N-Seal and High Gloss Topcoat.
NAIL POLISH BRANDS WITH ONE OR MORE 'TOXIC TRIO' INGREDIENTS
The DTSC said all three chemicals are linked to chronic health conditions when inhaled, with exposure to large amounts being linked to developmental problems, asthma and other illnesses.
The report said the 121,000 licensed nail care technicians who work in the salons, many of them young Asian-American women, are most at risk.
The agency said the salons are often poorly ventilated, leading to exposure to a number of harmful chemicals.
'We are alarmed by the results of this report,' Julia Liou, co-founder of the California Healthy Nail Salon Collaborative and a public health administrator for Asian Health Services, said in a statement.
'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.'
DBP has been banned in nail products in the European Union, and the EU has strict limits on the amount of formaldehyde and toluene that can be used.
The California attorney general's office said it will have to review DTSC's findings before making a decision on any legal action.
'We will need to examine the data for compliance with Prop. 65 and other state laws,' said Lynda Gledhill, a spokeswoman for the attorney general's office.
Proposition 65 is a state law that requires that all harmful chemicals in a product be revealed by the manufacturer.
A final decision on whether the companies will face legal action, which can include fines and an order to attach warning labels to their products, will be made by the state attorney general's office.
Mike Vo, vice president of Miss Professional Nail Products, Inc., the maker of the Sation products and others on the list, said he disputed DTSC's findings.
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