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If there is one thing no one wants with their Halloween costume, it’s toxic chemicals. But that may very well be the case according to the results of our new HealthyStuff.org study of 106 common Halloween related products purchased from retailers including CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens. The products were tested for chemicals based on their toxicity or tendency to build up in people and the environment. These chemicals include lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (vinyl/PVC plastic), phthalates, cadmium, arsenic, tin (organotins), and mercury.
The results showed that 33 of the 106 products contained vinyl (polyvinyl chloride, abbreviated PVC). Two items contained high levels of phthalates that were recently banned in children’s products, including a Walmart Toddler Batman Muscle Costume. Vinyl products were also twice as likely to contain tin—indicating the presence of organotin chemicals—as non-vinyl materials. Five of the 106 products were measured to have high levels of lead and an additional seven had lower lead levels.
Ten of the products, mostly decorations and party accessories, contained levels of bromine consistent with the presence of brominated flame retardants. These items included:
Finally, almost one-third of the products contained antimony, which is used as a catalyst in synthetic fabric production and at higher levels, as a flame retardant.
The study also documented an ongoing shift away from phthalate plasticizers in many products. Fifteen of the vinyl items tested were plasticized with less-toxic DOTP, which we hope indicates that companies are becoming more chemically conscious.
Creative Costumes: Skip the store-bought plastic or vinyl costumes, especially masks. Vinyl may contain hormone-disrupting phthalates. Thirty-three of the 106 tested Halloween products contained vinyl, including two items containing phthalates that were recently banned in children’s products.
Make up and Masks: Vinyl and other plastics are even worse when they cover your or your child’s face. Halloween make-up may contain heavy metals or ingredients linked to cancer and other health concerns. Instead:
Carving Pumpkins: Don’t let all those good pumpkin guts go to waste!
Trick or Treating: Ten percent of the products we tested contained levels of bromine consistent with brominated flame retardants, including two Disney-themed Trick-or-Treat bags. Leave potentially toxic bags and one-time use plastic buckets on the shelf.
Decorations: Decorating for Halloween shouldn’t bring unnecessary toxics into your home. Vinyl wall stickers can contain regulated phthalates, such as the Disney Wall Art set we tested which contained 16% regulated phthalates.
Be safe and have fun!