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DBPs and birth defects

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The smell of perfume and nail polish can sometimes be so overwhelming, you've probably wondered if some of the ingredients are harmful to your health

The smell of perfume and nail polish can sometimes be so overwhelming, you've probably wondered if some of the ingredients are harmful to your health. If you're pregnant or planning to conceive, they may be particularly harmful.

According to a report by the Environmental Working Group, a long list of beauty products contain a chemical called dibutyl phthalate (DBP), an additive that makes scents last longer, allows body lotion to be more deeply absorbed, and makes nail polish flexible and resistant to chipping. A study by the Centers for Disease Control showed that DBPs were present in all 289 adults tested. Women of childbearing age were found to have DBP levels up to 20 times higher, possibly because they use more beauty products. That could spell trouble if you're pregnant. Laboratory tests have shown that the offspring of animals exposed to DBP in utero had more birth defects, particularly of the male reproductive system.

Environmental groups are calling for the elimination of DBPs in all products since safer alternatives are available. However, you may not find dibutyl phthalate listed on labels because it's not required. For brand names of phthalate and phthalate-free cosmetics, visit nottoopretty.org.

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