Majority of nail polish improperly labeled, some contain lead: CF

Wednesday, October 3, 2007
The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- About 67 percent of nail polish products sold in Taiwan are improperly labeled, with over 2 percent of those tested containing excessive amounts of the heavy metal lead, said the Consumers’ Foundation (CF) yesterday.

In the latest spot check by the CF, one out of 46 nail polish products, “Bichun high-quality nail polish (6),” contained over 1,000 ppm (parts per million) of the potentially deadly substance — far greater than the standard allowable limit by the Department of Health (DOH) of 20 ppm, explained Cheng Jen-hung, foundation chairman.

For someone who has a nail-biting habit, this especially alarming because ingesting lead-contaminated materials can cause lead poisoning, said Cheng. When ingested at very high levels, it can cause seizures, coma, and may even cause death.

Even in small amounts, long-term exposure to lead can cause slow poisoning which leads to health complications such as abdominal pain and nervous system problems, added Cheng.

Lead exposure is particularly harmful to young children by affecting their developing brains and nervous systems, he also noted.

In addition, Cheng said that the DOH requires that all cosmetic products sold nationwide contain labels with information including the manufacturer’s name, manufacturer’s address, product name, ingredients, item number, method of use, weight, and date of manufacture.

But the inspection revealed that 31 out of the 46 samples, or 67 percent, did not meet the labeling requirements, said the chairman.

Cheng advised nail polish users to allow about a week in between applications to let nails rest and breathe. Expectant mothers and those with nail conditions should avoid using nail polish altogether, he said.

The CF in March collected a random sample group of nail polish products in different hues of red — the most common color sold — from thrift stores, night markets, pharmacies, and shopping centers throughout the island, including areas such as Taipei, Taichung, Nantou, Changhua, Tainan, Kaohsiung, and Pingtung.

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