Getting your nails done? Wait! You might be safer off working in an oil refinery!

Levels of cancer-causing chemicals in nail salons are higher than in oil refineries and automobile garages, says a study. The news about chemicals in nail polish is not great either.

 |  3-minute read |   16-05-2019
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Are you one whose immaculately groomed nails painted perfectly to the last stroke is the cause of your friends' envy? Well, gloat not. If reports are to be believed, your exposure to carcinogenic chemicals is higher than a worker at a petrol pump or even one at an oil refinery!

According to the latest study from the University of Colorado, nail salons have higher levels of cancer-causing chemicals than auto garages and oil refineries!

The report makes definitive links between the level of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in nail paints and the effect on the health of nail salon workers who are constantly exposed to these chemicals and their vapours. The result is not limited to the workers but extends to immaculately groomed ones too, who polish their nails before a single fleck chips off.

main_manicure_getty_051619045759.jpgCoating keratins with carcinogens? Think again — you might live longer and healthier if you just let them be! (Representational Photo: Getty Images)

The researchers studied workers in nail salons in the USA and modelled the impact of the increased exposure to VOCs including benzene and formaldehyde. Incidentally, formaldehyde is a colourless, strong-smelling hydrocarbon gas most popularly used for preserving organic specimens, and in nail hardeners and nail paints.

While you may argue that these dangerous-sounding chemicals in nail polishes are only for external application, and not either drunk or ingested internally, remember that studies have long established that nail paints leach into the bodies through the nails. Formaldehyde is known to be so detrimental that even at very low concentrations like 0.1 to 0.5 PPM (parts per million), merely inhaling the vapours can irritate the nose and eyes. It has been proven that it decreases the performance on short-term memory tests.

Lupita Montoya, the lead author of the study and a research associate in University of Colorado, reportedly said, “The study provides some of the first hard evidence that these environments are dangerous for workers and that better policies need to be enacted to protect them.”

Interestingly, Montoya’s inspiration for the study came from visiting a salon several years ago and being struck by the pungent smell of the chemicals involved in nail applications. She suspected the air quality in the salons might be poor and set about designing a study to find out more.

The study yielded shocking results.

The researchers found that the risk for lung and skin cancers (squamous cell carcinoma) and Hodgkin’s lymphoma was projected to increase in workers at nail salons. Alarmingly, the relative risk of developing leukaemia due to exposure was over 100 times greater in these workers.

Next time you think of being the well-polished girl, spare some thought. You might be doing your health (and your parlour lady’s health) favour by just letting those nails be! 

But then, that's only if you choose to believe in science.  

Also read: You probably can't afford Victoria Beckham's 'blood' moisturiser. But would you try these?


Rajeshwari Ganesan Rajeshwari Ganesan @rajeshwaridotg

Assistant Editor, DailyO

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