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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

BU Finds Nail Polish Source of Exposure to Toxic Chemical

A research team that includes Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) environmental health professor Dr. Thomas Webster has found evidence that a suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical widely used in nail polishes seeps into the bodies of women when they paint their nails.

The study found that all 26 female study participants had a metabolite of triphenyl phosphate, or TPHP, in their bodies just 10 to 14 hours after painting their nails. Their levels of diphenyl phosphate, which forms when the body metabolizes TPHP, increased nearly sevenfold.

TPHP is primarily used as a flame retardant or plasticizer and is listed as an ingredient in about half of nail polishes. Scientists are increasingly concerned about TPHP because animal studies indicate it is an endocrine disruptor that may cause reproductive, developmental, and other problems.

The results “indicate that nail polish may be a significant source of short-term TPHP exposure and a source of chronic exposure for frequent users or those occupationally exposed,” the researchers said.

To read more about the study, go to: