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My friend Mary is the quintessential earth mother. She is extremely conscious of the ecosystem, is knowledgeable in the genetically modified food controversy, and could probably be classified as an expert environmentalist.

My friend Mary is the quintessential earth mother. She is extremely conscious of the ecosystem, is knowledgeable in the genetically modified food controversy, and could probably be classified as an expert environmentalist.

For years Mary has generously shared her wealth of information with me. I listen carefully, nod my head, and emit moans of empathy. Generally, I try to implement her heartfelt advice to cease and desist in the membership of the world at large; walking two blocks to the store instead of driving; buying organic fruits and vegetables; and eliminating plastics and Styrofoam from my home.

Recently, Mary did a double take upon seeing my manicured nails and immediately announced that she was going to tell me all about the dangers of nail polish. I was speechless. How on earth can nail polish hurt me? Genetically modified foods I can understand. Pollutants in the air I can relate to. But nail polish? Thoughts of intervention processes went through my mind. Instead, I listened carefully.

Questionable Ingredients

According to Mary, most nail polish contains chemicals with phthalate- and formaldehyde-releasing ingredients, which are carcinogenic. This last ingredient is a plasticizer that prevents polish from cracking. It is a low-volatile chemical, so after the polish is applied to nails, it stays on with the polish and penetrates into our system.

Studies have been done which show that dibutyl phthalate (DBP) has been linked to birth defects in rodents. Although there is no information on how much DBP it takes to harm humans, experts agree that avoiding it, especially if you are pregnant, is recommended.

Horrified at what I was hearing, I looked down at my nails self-consciously curled inward into fists. Colourful toes peeked out from feet conspicuously tucked far beneath my chair. Are these 20 appendages turning on me and creating havoc with my hormonal system?

Sensing my dismay, Mary quickly did damage control. Apparently all is not lost; there is still hope for co-ordinating fingers and toes to a chosen ensemble. Some health food stores carry water-based nail polish that is chemical free.

A Safe Alternative

In water-based nail polishes, chemical solvents are completely replaced by water. They do not contain phthalate- or formaldehyde-releasing agents. When applied to the nail, water vapour is released, but there are no toxic chemical fumes. Best of all, when applied in several thin coats, water-based nail polish lasts just as long as regular polish. Nails won't get weak and brittle with water-based polish because it is filled with water and not chemicals.

Innovative technology has created a natural alternative to the toxic chemical, solvent-based conventional nail polish. In addition, a nontoxic, 100-percent natural polish remover is also available.

As a woman who loves to paint my nails, this topic hit close to home. I visited my local health food store and discovered an extensive selection of colours to choose from. My nails have never looked prettier. Best of all, I know using water-based nail polish is healthier and safer.

Thanks Mary.

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