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Toxic glue threatens children’s health 

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The toxics watchdog group EcoWaste Coalition has revealed the proliferation of artificial nail sets marketed for children’s use that come with a banned adhesive containing a restricted chemical ingredient. 

Despite the prohibition imposed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2015 and 2021, the sale of artificial nail products with the accompanying “Nail Adhesive” containing dibutyl phthalate (DBP) has not stopped, the group lamented.

In a market monitoring conducted last September 19 in Binondo, Manila, the group managed to buy four pads of artificial nail sets bearing the names “Beauty Nail,””Liang Zi Fashion Nail,” “Liang Zi Happy,” and “Manicure” – all imported from China.  Each pad of 20 packs is sold for P65 to P75 each and is resold by sari-sari stores, especially those located near schools, for as low as P5/pack.

Each pack contains artificial plastic nails and a small tube of “Nail Adhesive,” which lists acetone, carboxylated vinyl resin, hexamethylene, methyl ethyl ketone and DBP -- a substance banned in cosmetics and toys and other childcare articles -- as ingredients.

In 2015 the EcoWaste Coalition alerted the FDA about the sale of artificial nails with accompanying DBP-containing “Nail Adhesive.”  The FDA tested and confirmed the presence of DBP in the said adhesive and then issued a corresponding public health warning. 

As stated in FDA Advisory No. 2015-006, “DBP has the ability to cause allergic reactions,” warning “there were previous cases where allergic response to DBP was found to be severe” and adding further “allergic reactions can induce a state of hypersensitivity in the immune system.”  FDA Advisory No. 2021-0541 also warned that the use of the unnotified glue “may pose health risks to consumers.”

“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,” the FDA explained.

DBP, along with five other phthalates, has been restricted in toys in concentrations exceeding 0.1 percent as per DOH Administrative Order 2009-0005-A.  The ASEAN Cosmetic Directive has also listed DBP among the substances that “must not form part of the composition of cosmetic products.”

DBP is also included in California’s Proposition 65 list “because it can cause birth defects or other reproductive harm,” noting that “exposure to DBP during pregnancy may affect development of the child, and may also harm the male and female reproductive systems."

According to the California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA):

--- DBP can be absorbed into the body through contact with DBP-containing cosmetics, household products, and other products. 

--- DBP can be gradually released from consumer products into indoor environments such as homes, schools, daycare centers, and offices. 

--- DBP can pass from mother to baby.

The EcoWaste Coalition is requesting the government, particularly the customs, health, trade and local government authorities, to go after the importers, distributors and sellers of artificial nail sets with DBP-containing adhesive to protect public health, especially the health of girls and women. 

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