Warning Out on Toxic Adhesive for Artificial Nails

Cheap artificial nails with matching adhesive containing a banned substance are still sold in the market despite a public health warning issued by the authorities in 2015.

The EcoWaste Coalition made the revelation after procuring last September 11 artificial nails that sell for P60 for 20 sets and P65 for 24 sets from toy wholesalers in Binondo, Manila.  Toy retailers often re-sell artificial nails for P5/set.

“The glue used to attach artificial nails to the real nails contains dibutyl phthalate (DBP), a chemical compound that is known to disrupt hormones and cause birth defects and other reproductive harm,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition. 

“For P5, users, especially teen girls, can be exposed to toxic DBP,” she said, noting that “while the label says ‘keep out of reach of children,' these artificial nail sets are often sold in cheap toy stores near schools.”   

Each set of artificial nails comes with a small tube of adhesive listing DBP among its ingredients. DBP belongs to the list of substances which must not form part of the composition of a cosmetic product as per the ASEAN Cosmetic Directive.

It will be recalled that the EcoWaste Coalition submitted in 2014 samples of artificial nail sets to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Subsequent analysis confirmed the presence of banned DBP in the accompanying adhesive

This prompted the FDA to issue Advisory No. 2015-006 warning consumers against DBP-containing adhesive for artificial nails.

As mentioned in the said advisory, “DBP has the ability to cause allergic reactions, which can induce a state of hypersensitivity in the immune system.”

“It can cause the immune system to respond to chemical exposures with immunological reactions that are harmful, varying from hives to life threatening responses such as anaphylactic shock, where low blood pressure and breathing difficulties can result in death.”

Classified by the European Chemicals Agency as “toxic to reproduction,” the European Union has banned DBP in cosmetics as well as in child articles and toys. The EU further considers DBP as “dangerous for the environment” and “very toxic to aquatic life.”

In view of the continued sale of artificial nails with DBP-containing adhesive, the EcoWaste Coalition urged national and local government authorities to intensify post-market surveillance and prosecute importers, distributors and retailers of the violative products.