Another one of the “toxic trio” components, Toluene is a toxic chemical substance used in nail polish to give it that smooth application and finish that we all know and love. It is also commonly used in nail polish removers and it’s sweet pungent fumes are highly toxic. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, repeated or prolonged exposure to toluene can result in decreased brain functionality, neurological damage, respiratory problems, nausea, and hearing loss.
It can also cause abnormal fetal development in pregnant women and studies on animals have shown it to be linked to several types of blood cancer. The European Union has restricted the use of toluene in personal care products and the state of California has recognized and added it to the list of chemicals that are harmful to fetal development. Nail polish labeled either “5 Free” or “3 Free” will not contain toluene.