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Nail Polish, Saran Wrap and Birth Defects

FOX 9 Twin Cities produces a really lousy story.

More inaccurate reporting on phthalates, part 587 – from FOX9 Twin Cities:

“What do you look for when you’re buying nail polish – the perfect color, a nice gloss? Something that won’t chip?

Turns out, there’s something more serious you should be looking for, and it’s listed on the back of the bottle.

New studies show one ingredient in nail polish could be harmful. It’s called dibutyl phthalate, and it could be related to birth defects.

Phthalates are used to soften plastics, and can be found in many household materials from shower curtains to saran wrap to nail polish.”

First off, what new studies? The origin of the claim that phthalates are linked with birth defects is the study Decrease in Anogenital Distance among Male Infants with Prenatal Phthalate Exposure, which was published in the August 2005 issue of Environmental Health Perspectives; and as we pointed out, the whole “birth defect” charge wasn’t true: all the male children in the study had normal genitals and reproductive function.

We also noted that the overwhelming majority of our exposure to phthalates, including the phthalate in nail polish, came from food. And the idea that nail polish posed a particular hazard was disposed by STATS’ Dr. Rebecca Goldin on NBC’s Today show (see the video here).

Arecent EPA draft risk assessment of dibutyl phthalate (DBP) recommended raising the oral reference dose – and also noted that there were many limitations to Swan’s study.

And while the European Union has implemented a ban on DBP, the EU’s own risk assessment says – on page 108 – that there is no risk to consumers from DBP in nail polish. (In other words, the politicians who enacted the ban ignored their own scientific advisors.)

And one more thing, there is no DBP in saran wrap.

Perhaps FOX9 should focus a little bit more on the “we report” mantra of its parent news organization.


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