I don't really want to lose brain cells...
April 28, 2010 9:43 PM   Subscribe

So how much brain damage does one actually sustain from nail polish fumes?

I've started to change my nail color pretty much daily. Then, I started thinking about all the 'it'll kill your brain!' thing. When I was little, I would always go outside to polish. Is this really necessary? How much damage does one really sustain? Does polishing by an open window make a significant amount of difference?

I mean, I'm not huffing it or anything. But I've noticed I've become desensitized to the fumes (ie I don't think about/notice it at all, but someone else comes into the room and says wow! fumes), which scares me into thinking I might start inhaling more than I should.
posted by R a c h e l to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If your not painting your nails daily under a plastic bag placed over your head, you're good.
posted by kjs3 at 9:54 PM on April 28, 2010

I'm pretty sure it says on the bottle to use in a ventilated area. Do this.

If you're really 17, you still have more brain cells than the rest of us, you could stand to lose 10 or 20k.

(skips anecdote about fainting while cleaning with acetone in an enclosed space.)
posted by Sphinx at 10:33 PM on April 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

I paint my nails probably every other day or a bit less, I make sure that I have the bathroom door open when I remove the old polish so the fumes can escape, I've been doing this for at least 5 years and have noticed no ill-effects. I think that going outside is unnecessary.
posted by ellieBOA at 1:04 AM on April 29, 2010

Wikipedia says the base solvent in nail polish is often acetone.

The Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for pure acetone says that chronic exposure can lead to dermatitis, while intense short-term exposure can depress the nervous system.

I think that if you were to lose any brain cells, it would be from suffocation after inhaling massive amounts beyond the point of unconsciousness.

The more likely problem is skin or lung irritation.
posted by zippy at 1:59 AM on April 29, 2010

You're fine but there are touline free nail polishes which is probably what you're smelling. Invest in more "eco friendly" polishes if there are one. Always be in a well ventilated, open area.

And to me, the public train isn't a place for polishing your nails. Some genius sat next to me stinking to high heaven as she did them. Very annoying. Thank god I wasn't pregnant or the bottle would have wound up down the isle.
posted by stormpooper at 6:25 AM on April 29, 2010

You have nothing to worry about. High concentrations of acetone will cause throat and eye irritation long before causing any significant neurological effects. Those effects, when they occur, will be dizziness, euphoria, or CNS depression, and they will be short-term. Don't drink the stuff and you'll be fine.
posted by dephlogisticated at 12:20 PM on April 29, 2010

Response by poster: Ah, thanks all for the breath of fresh air (no pun intended?). I guess I was worrying a little too much.

And what the heck with the "if you are really 17"? Why would I lie about that?

Reguardless, thanks!
posted by R a c h e l at 8:43 PM on April 29, 2010

You're fine but there are touline free nail polishes

stormpooper meant "toluene-free".
posted by IAmBroom at 9:11 PM on May 2, 2010

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