The Theory of Nails

6.8 Potential Symptoms and Health Effects of Overexposure

Ingredient Usage Symptoms of Overexposure
Acetone Nail polish remover,

fingernail glue

removerA

Overexposure may cause headache, dizziness, irritation to skin, eyes, and throat, and central nervous system depression1
Acetonitrile Glue Remover Irritated nose and throat; breathing problems; nausea; vomiting; weakness; and exhaustion.
Benzoyl Peroxide Powder additive for

artificial nailsA,B,E

Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose, mouth, throat, and lungs, and skin rash2
Butyl acetate Nail polishA,D,F Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose, mouth and throat, headache, drowsiness, skin rash, confusion and/or

haziness1,2

Butyl methacrylate Artificial nailsA Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose, mouth, and throat, shortness of breath, and skin rash2
Camphor** Nail polishD Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose, mouth, and throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache, dizziness,

and in extreme cases of overexposure, uncontrollable muscle contractions1,2

Dibutyl phthalate** Nail polish, nail hardenerC Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, stomach, and upper respiratory system. Prolonged exposure to high concentrations may be hazardous to human reproduction and development 1,2,3
Ethyl acetate Nail polishDE

GlueF

Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose, mouth, and throat, skin rash, confusion and/or haziness1,2
Ethyl cyanoacrylate Fingernail glueA,C,D,G Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, mucous membranes, and skin, and skin sensitization2,4
Ethyl methacrylate Artificial nailsA,E,F,G Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, skin, and respiratory track, and skin sensitization2,4
Formaldehyde Nail polish, nail hardener Difficulty breathing, including coughing, asthma-like attacks, and wheezing; allergic reactions; irritated eyes, skin, and throat. Formaldehyde can cause cancer.
Formalin**† Nail hardenerA Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, nose, skin, throat and respiratory system, and wheezing. Prolonged exposure may cause asthma-like respiratory problems.5 Substance may be a carcinogen if inhaled in high concentrations or for long periods1,2,^
Hydroquinone** Artificial nailsA Overexposure may cause irritation and inflammation to eyes, irritation to skin, skin rash, and in more serious cases of overexposure, coloured urine, nausea, dizziness, rapid breathing, muscle contraction, and central nervous system excitement1,2
Isobutyl methacrylate Artificial nailsA Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose, mouth, throat, and lungs3
Isopropyl acetate Nail polish, nail polish remover Sleepiness, and irritated eyes, nose, and throat.
Methacrylic acid Primer

Artificial nailsF,G

Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose, mouth, and throat, burning of eyes and skin, shortness of breath, labored breathing, and cough2
4-methoxyphenol** Artificial nailsA Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes and skin, burning of eyes and skin, and central nervous system depression1,2
Methyl ethyl ketone Nail polishD,E

Nail polish removerCArtificial nail remover

Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose, mouth, and throat, cough, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting, and skin rash1,2
Methyl methacrylate (typically not used) Artificial nailsA Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes, skin, nose, mouth, and throat, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath, and skin rash1,2 Asthma; difficulty concentrating; loss of smell.
Poly (ethyl/methyl Methacrylate) Powder for artificial nailsE,F,H Overexposure may cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and throat (by inhalation)6
Quaternary ammonium compounds Disinfectants Irritated skin and nose and may cause asthma.
Titanium dioxide** Nail polish, powder for artificial nailsA Overexposure may cause lung fibrosis and may be an occupational carcinogen1
Toluene Nail polishA

Glue

Overexposure may cause irritation to eyes and nose, throat and lungs; weakness, exhaustion, confusion, inappropriate feelings of happiness, dizziness, headache, dilated pupils, runny eyes, anxiety, muscle fatigue, inability to sleep, feeling of numbness/tingling, skin rash, and in more serious cases of overexposure or intentional abuse, liver and kidney damage1,2,‡ Dry or cracked skin; and harm to unborn children during pregnancy.
Tosylamide Formaldehyde Resin (TFR Resin) Nail hardenerA

Nail polishI

Overexposure may cause irritation to skin and skin rash4

3-Free and 5-Free – Some products now claim to be made without the “toxic trio” (toluene, formaldehyde, and dibutyl phthalate). These products are called “3-free” products.

Acid free – Some primers are made without chemicals like methacrylic acid. These are labeled “acid free.”

FOOTNOTES

*Potential health effects depend on conditions of exposure, which may be minimized by working safely (e.g., ventilation and use of masks and gloves).
**Quantities in nail care products are small and application techniques are designed to minimize the potential for exposure.
† ‘Formalin’ describes aqueous solutions containing 37-50% formaldehyde and 6-15% alcohol stabilizer
^ A study has shown that formaldehyde concentrations in nail salons were comparable to those found in office buildings and did not increase when nail products were in use and ventilation systems were operating properly
‡ A study has shown that toluene concentrations in nail salons were within safe limits

USAGE COLUMN REFERENCES AND NOTES

A. OPI Products Inc. product MSDS or correspondence with Paul Bryson, O.P.I.
B. Correspondence from General Dental Products
C. Backscratchers product MSDS (available at: www.backscratchers.com )
D. European Nail Factory product MSDS (available at: www.european-nailfactory.com)
E. Kupa Incorporated product MSDS (contact: 800-994-5872)
F. Nail Systems International product MSDS (available at: www.nsinails.co.uk/content/msds)
G. Originails, E.O.H Industries, Inc. product MSDS (available at:www.originails.com/msds/index.htm)
H. Star Nail International product MSDS (available at: www.starnail.com/msds.htm)
I. Sally Hansen product MSDS (available at the National Institute of Health, Household Product Database: http://hpd.nlm.nih.gov)

SYMPTOMS OF OVEREXPOSURE COLUMN REFERENCES

1. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH); Pocket Guide toChemical Hazards; available at www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npg.html
2. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH); International ChemicalSafety Cards; available at www.cdc.gov/niosh/ipcs/nicstart.html
3. Hazardous Substance Data Bank; profiles available at http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov
4. National Library of Medicine; Haz-Map: Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Agents; profiles available at http://hazmap.nlm.nih.gov
5. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA); Fact Sheet on Formaldehyde www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/formaldehyd…
6. ESSCHEM Inc, Linwood, PA. Material Safety Data Sheets
7. Industrial Hygiene Assessment of Toluene and Formaldehyde Concentrations in California Nail and Full Service Salons, Clayton Project, project no. 800-97276.00, Clayton Environmental Consultants, Santa Ana, CA, March 16, 1999.

This Post Has 2 Questions

  1. I can’t seem to find Silica in the list ?

    1. Admin bar avatar

      Not everything is in the list, just the most popular ones 🙂 Silica is a drying agent 🙂

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