The three-year-old I care for often asks to have nail polish applied to her fingers like many of her friends that are the same age. But, my Mom Boss doesn't want me to apply nail polish to her fingers because she still sucks her thumbs. And the article, "Ask Well: Is Nail Polish Harmful?" posted on a New York Times blog by Deborah Blum confirms my employer's concerns.
Ms. Blum explains that some pediatricians now warn against letting young girls, especially those young enough to chew on their fingers, wear nail polish.
The article states that public health advocates are concerned about three compounds — often referred to as “the toxic trio” — in leading nail polish brands. The trio consists of a known carcinogen, formaldehyde, used as a hardening agent, and two materials linked to developmental defects: toluene, to evenly suspend color, and the plasticizer dibutyl phthalate, or DBP, to add flexibility and sheen.
The article points out that many companies have voluntarily removed these compounds from their products. But, a 2012 investigation by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control found, some simply changed their labels while continuing to use them.
The author writes, "While the European Union has banned the use of DBP in cosmetics, the United States Food and Drug Administration has not taken any comparable regulatory action."
To find safe nail polish brands check out the Environmental Working Group maintains a searchable cosmetics database at www.ewg.org/skindeep.