What environmental issue relates to the use of nail polish removers or to the chemical acetone?

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Nail polish removers consist of solvents such as acetone to enable the removal of nail polish. Acetone can be manufactured and is also found naturally. It is considered a volatile organic compound.

Acetone typically enters the environment through the atmosphere , and from there it can move into the hydrosphere...

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Nail polish removers consist of solvents such as acetone to enable the removal of nail polish. Acetone can be manufactured and is also found naturally. It is considered a volatile organic compound.

Acetone typically enters the environment through the atmosphere, and from there it can move into the hydrosphere (water) and lithosphere (soil) through precipitation (rainfall, snow, etc.). It can also find its way to groundwater through spills or landfill leachate. It is somewhat toxic to aquatic life and can cause membrane damage. It can also result in a reduction in the size and germination of various plants.

Acetone has a short half-life (22 days) in the air. It gets degraded by sunlight and does not bioaccumulate in plants, animals, or human beings. The maximum limit for acetone in drinking water is 6.3 mg/L in Massachusetts.

Low amounts of acetone in our body can be broken down by the liver. However, exposure to higher concentrations of acetone can cause eye irritation, issues with the respiratory system, headache, confusion, nausea, and vomiting. It is not a known carcinogen. In fact, it has been stated that common consumer's usage of nail polish removers is not expected to cause any adverse health effects.

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