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The California Department of Substance Control (DTSC) received 61 comments, 80% from Salud America! network members, that urged state regulators to remove harmful chemicals in nail-care products.
The department began taking statements on February 15, asking for the public’s input on toluene — a substance linked to numerous adverse health issues. Studies and reports have shown that this chemical poses harm to those who experience long-term exposure.
We asked our Salud America! network members in California to speak up for the safety of salon industry workers and consumers.
The DTSC received 61 comments, 50 of which were or a variation of, Salud America! model messages.
Still, the DTSC has more work to do in determining whether or not toluene should become a “priority product,” which would ban the substance in products, according to Sanford Nax, the DTSC’s information officer.
“We are evaluating the written and oral comments from the March 13, 2019, workshop on toluene in nail products and the ‘Discussion Draft Product-Chemical Profile for Nail Products Containing Toluene,’ and considering whether to edit the draft profile based on the comments,” Nax told Salud America!.
What is Toluene and why is it dangerous?
This substance, found in nail-care products like paints and removers, is added to enhance the smoothness and vibrancy of colors.
It has also been linked to miscarriages, birth defects, and other severe health complications in those exposed over long periods.
A study conducted by Duke University and the Environmental Working Group shows almost half of all nail polishes listed in their database contain toluene.
“The industry has known for a long time that toluene is a problematic chemical in these products,” said Meredith Williams, acting director of DTSC, in a statement. “Responsible manufacturers have moved away from it. We want to make sure that others do the same.”
What’s Next for Toluene?
Now that the public comment period is closed, the DTSC will take steps to review the results, then submit that information to other bodies for assessment.
“After the final Draft Profile is completed, a draft regulation will be prepared, and the draft regulation and the profile will undergo External Scientific Peer Review (ESPR),” Nax said. “After the ESPR is completed, DTSC will consider the peer reviewers’ comments as appropriate, then initiate listing of Nail Products containing toluene as a Priority Product in the regulations.”
While toluene remains in question for the DTSC, other California state officials decided this issue is not one that needs regulation.
The state Assembly’s Environment, Safety, and Toxic Materials Committee decided earlier this month to not vote on a bill that would ban 20 different harmful chemicals, including toluene.
Legislators postponed the Toxic-Free Cosmetics Act after dedicated efforts made by the cosmetics industry to label the proposed law as a “jobs killer,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
The state assembly will review the bill again next year.
Salud America! thanks all those who took the time to advocate for Latino, salon-industry workers, and consumer health equity!
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a collaboration between Salud America! and the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) program at UT Health- San Antonio. To find out if you are TILTed due to exposure to everyday foods, chemicals, or drugs, take a self-assessment or learn more about TILT.