A study released today by the Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project has found elevated levels of toxic chemicals in popular Halloween costumes, accessories and party supplies sold by stores you likely shop at often. The Ecology Center tested 106 Halloween products in total, looking for substances linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. All of the products were purchased at popular retailers, including CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens. Jeff Gearhart, HealthyStuff.org research director, says, “We found that seasonal products, like thousands of other products we have tested, are full of dangerous chemicals. Poorly regulated toxic chemicals consistently show up in seasonal products. Hazardous chemicals in consumer products pose unnecessary and avoidable health hazards to children, consumers, communities, workers and our environment.” The research focused on products containing chemicals that are not only toxic but that have the tendency to build up in both people and the environment. Chemicals tested for included lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (vinyl/PVC plastic), phthalates, arsenic, and tin (organotins). According to the Ecology Center research, some products contained multiple chemical hazards. For example, one toddler Batman Muscle Costume had a belt containing 29% regulated phthalates, 340 ppm tin, and lead in the lining of the mask at 120 ppm. Some other Halloween product highlights include the following:
- CVS Retailed: 30 Halloween LED C3 Lights: PVC insulation containing 0.25% bromine (indicating flame retardant use) and 0.5% antimony and a Big Bop Light Stick: PVC components with organotin compounds (1,400 ppm tin).
- Kroger Retailed: Flicker Lights: 6.5% bromine (indicating flame retardant use) and 1% antimony, Cars Halloween Bag: 2.8% bromine (indicating flame retardant use) and 0.77% antimony, Princess Halloween Bag: 0.6% bromine (indicating flame retardant use) and 0.24% antimony.
- Party City Retailed: Silver Princess Tiara: 0.38% bromine (indicating flame retardant use), 0.33% chlorine and 0.09% antimony. and a Pink Butterfly Set – Wings, Tiara and Wand: PVC components with organotin compounds (1,720 ppm tin).
- Target Retailed: Disney Cinderella Dress: 0.1% bromine (indicating flame retardant use) in fabric.
- Walgreens Retailed Disney Wall Art: 16% regulated phthalates, Orange Pumpkin Lights: 6.7% bromine (indicating flame retardant use) and 1.2% antimony in cord insulation, and a Deluxe Fairy Costume Dress and Wings: 420 ppm lead in glitter trim on wings.
Mike Schade, Mind the Store Campaign Director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families states, Our nation’s biggest retailers have a responsibility to their customers to sell safe products, especially when it comes to our children. Their considerable market share gives them the power and the responsibility to demand safer chemicals and products from their suppliers. This new testing underscores the need for big retailers to ensure products on their shelves, such as Halloween costumes, don’t contain toxic chemicals.” Until our nation’s retailers get on board with chemical reform however, what’s a concerned parent to do? Well, HealthyStuff has some suggestions for a less toxic and safer Halloween, such as:
- Tell all your favorite retailers to commit to selling non-toxic Halloween supplies.
- Avoid any vinyl Halloween products – cloth and natural materials are a safer choice for costumes and decorations.
- Use colored paint and cosmetic pencils made from clay or other natural ingredients.
- Use old pillowcases or reusable shopping bags for Trick or Treating. OR upcycle an old T-shirt into a trick or treat bag via our tutorial!
- Avoid plastic Halloween decorations and instead use paper, cardboard, leaves or other natural and recyclable materials for your decorations.
Learn more about this new Halloween study at HealthyStuff.org.