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California proposes regulating toxic chemical in nail products

If approved, manufacturers will have to look for safer alternatives to toluene

Posted February 25, 2019

California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced it is taking steps to promote safer alternatives to a toxic chemical found in many nail products. Because of the danger it poses to nail salon workers and their customers, DTSC is proposing to list nail products containing toluene as a Priority Product under its Safer Consumer Products program. If adopted, the regulation would require manufacturers to look for alternatives to the chemical if they want to continue serving the California market.

Toluene is a solvent that can be harmful to people who breathe in its fumes. Extended exposure has been linked to nervous system damage and harm to the respiratory tract. Exposure in the workplace has also been associated with developmental effects, such as increased risk of low birthweight.

Nail salon workers are particularly at risk because they may be exposed to the chemical from multiple products over long work hours—sometimes in small, poorly ventilated workspaces. DTSC says studies show that toluene has been detected in salons at levels above California regulatory standards.

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