The Spooky Truth behind Halloween Costumes and Accessories
By Jessica Harshfield, Michigan Intern
Halloween is such a fabulous time of year. Not only is it during my most favorite season, when the leaves turn vibrant shades of red and orange, but it is a time where you can feel like you’re a kid again. Even in my mid-twenties, I still enjoy creating costumes for Halloween parties. With all the silly things, like bobbing for apples, getting lost in a maze of cornfields, dancing to “Thriller,” or being “terrorized” at haunted houses and hayrides, this is a season for fun and good times with family and friends.
However, even Halloween has a few real scares – like toxic chemicals in kid’s costumes and face paints. Parents should be aware of the risk of toxic exposure that comes with wearing kid’s jewelry containing cadmium, face paint having cadmium or lead, or costumes made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a substance that has been found to contain lead. Each of these toxic substances can cause an array of serious health conditions including respiratory dysfunction, neurological and cognitive deficits, kidney and bone damage, and even cancer.
Makeup is not regulated nor subjected to safety testing and manufacturers are not required to list every ingredient contained in their products. Therefore, any fragrance or heavy metals ingredients do not need to be reported. That means we’re left in the dark about the highly toxic substances that might be contained. A 2009 study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested ten children’s face paint brands and found that all of them contained lead and 60 percent contained nickel, cobalt, or chromium! The “non-toxic” and “hypoallergenic” Snazaroo Paint brand had the highest level of toxins of all the paints tested. Read the full report here.
Let’s bring back the fun to Halloween. Instead of investing money in costumes that could adversely affect your health, create your own! You can find all of the fabric, ribbon, feathers and other supplies at your local craft store or rummage for gently used clothing at a thrift shop. These alternatives reduce the risk of exposure to toxicities in apparel and accessories, are less expensive and more creative than purchasing a pre-made costume, and are more fun!
As far a safer alternative for commercial face paint – try making your own at home. Several sites offer recipes for costume make-up, including Smart Mama’s step by step instructions on how to make non-toxic wounds, warts, blood, and fairy glitter to accompany any spooky, funny, or cute Halloween costume. If making your own make-up does not sound appealing, some brands and companies on the market are advertised as being safer to use and free of lead, fragrances, and other contaminants, such as: Lyra face paint pencils, Luna Star, Keeki non-toxic nail polish, Elegant Minerals face paint, and Manic Panic Dye Hard.
To spread the word on this critical issue affecting children’s health, the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health is working on a campaign that reflects a bill that has been recently introduced by Michigan Senators that can lead to better regulation of chemicals of concern like cadmium and mercury used in children’s products. Please contact your Senator and voice your opinion about why it is important to support the passing of this bill. More information on this campaign can be found here. And, to stay up to date on other children’s environmental health issues, be sure to “Like” the Michigan Network for Children’s Environmental Health on Facebook.
Posted on October 30, 2012 | Filed Under Healthy, Safer Families and Communities | Comments Off