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You may have noticed that the labels on some of your old bottles of nail polish warn that the contents are known to cause birth defects or cancer. The warning probably reads in full that the polish contains ingredients known in the state of California to cause birth defects or cancer. Why the distinction?

In 1988, California passed a law dictating that companies operating within the state must provide warnings if their products expose consumers to chemicals found by the state to cause cancer or birth defects. That applies even for small amounts, unless the company shows the amount to be safe.

In the past, nail polish was sometimes formulated with ingredients such as toluene, which is known to cause birth defects when inhaled by pregnant women, and formaldehyde, which has been linked to increased cancer risk. These ingredients are actually quite common in many household products. found in varying degrees in glue, spray paint, carpeting and furniture, for example.

Further studies have shown that in using nail polish with the aforementioned ingredients, consumers were being exposed to much less than the levels that could cause harm. These days, virtually all U.S. cosmetics companies have reformulated their nail products.

Just the same, it's a good idea to toss any nail polishes containing this warning.

By News Staff Reporter Toni Ruberto, compiled from staff and wire reports.

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