The toxic trio refers to the three most harmful substances contained in many nail polish brands. The three chemicals are toluene, dibutyl phthalate (DBT) and formaldehyde (methanal).
Some nail polishes contain all three chemicals of the toxic-trio, whist others only contain one or two of them. In fact, nowadays some healthier brands have come out on the market that exclude all three chemicals entirely from their nail enamel formula!
What are the dangers associated with the toxic-trio?
- DBP (Dibutyl phthalate). This chemical has been known to cause breast cancer, birth defects of newborns, neurodevelopmental problems of newborns, fertility problems, disruptions of the reproductive system and asthma attacks. There is even a link between DBP and obesity.
- Formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, also known as methanal, is a carcinogenic chemical. It has been linked to nasal sinus cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer and even leukaemia. Other side-effects of formaldehyde are irritations to the skin, eyes and throat. Asthma attacks and skin rashes are a common side effect for persons who are highly sensitive to this chemical. Abnormal menstrual cycles are also common amongst women who have been over-exposed to formaldehyde.
- Toluene. Toluene exposure frequently causes headaches, dizzy spells and skin irritations. High levels of exposure or pro-longed exposure may also cause more serious illnesses including kidney and liver damage, lesions of the brain, behavioural-abnormalities as well as birth defects.
Women should avoid wearing nail polishes containing the chemicals commonly referred to as the toxic trio. They should also avoid inhaling the toxic smell of these chemicals which is rampant at nail salons. Nowadays there are several nail enamel brands that are formaldehyde (methanal)-free, DBP-free and toluene free. Ensure that your nail enamel ingredients are not masked under some other strange names. Do your research and opt for the more natural water-based nail polishes available. Women should also stay clear from chemical-based nail polishes during pregnancy.