Are you planning on painting your child's face before they go to a Halloween party or trick-or-treating this year? You may want to think twice in light of new data released by the Ecology Center.
Researchers at the Ecology Center conducted a study of 31 Halloween make-up products and found that 100 percent of the products contained detectable levels of toxic metals. The products were purchased in Target, Halloween City, Party City and Spirit Halloween in southeast Michigan. The researchers used a High Definition X-Ray Fluorescence device, which allowed them to identify the elemental breakdown of the products.
The findings, posted on a project website of The Ecology Center called HealthyStuff.org, indicated that 16 of the products contained cadmium, a toxic metal that is a human carcinogen and also linked in animal studies with developmental effects, including low-birth weights and delayed sensory development.
Other toxic metals detected included tin (52%), arsenic (29%), antimony (16%), mercury (13%) and lead (3%.) While the levels of these metals were for the most part low, the highest level of cadmium detected in a product was 455 parts per million. Many of the products, even those with low metal traces, also contained high levels of chlorine and all of the products had detectable levels of chromium.
Products with the highest levels of toxic metals include:
- Carnival Colors Makeup, Rubie's Costume Co., Inc.
- Pearlescent Crayons, Spirit Halloween
- Character Makeup Kit, Rubie's Costume Co., Inc.
- Lady Gaga Makeup Kit, Rubie's Costume Co., Inc.
- Theatrical Effects Undead Stack, Rubie's Costume Co., Inc.
- Jumbo Bold Bright Makeup Sticks, Rubie's Costume Co., Inc.
- Glow in the Dark Cream, Spirit Halloween
- Color Sticks Makeup, Forum Novelties, Inc.
- Natural Eye, E.L.F.
While the levels of metals detected are considered to be trace by American regulatory agencies, HealthStuff.org noted in a statement that the highest levels of cadmium, mercury, arsenic and antimony in the products all exceed the Health Canada draft document, Guidance on Heavy Metal Impurities in Cosmetics.
Chances are that using these products once a year isn't going to cause detriment to your children's health. The issue for me, though, is that metals, such as cadmium, can build up in the body and are present in other items used by kids, such as toys and school supplies.
There's also an issue of disclosure about toxic metals being present in products and companies not indicating it on their packaging, or finding ways to create products without toxic substances.
"When there are so many other alternative ways to enjoy Halloween, it doesn't make sense for parents to expose their children to hazardous chemicals in make-up," said Rebecca Meuninck, environmental health campaign director for the Ecology Center. "I encourage families to use our results to choose safer products and make their own non-toxic Halloween make-up from the recipes on our website."
To check out recipes for homemade Halloween make-up on HealthyStuff.org, click here. To visit the organization's database of children's product toxicity rankings, click here. To find out about what's in other cosmetic products, check out the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Database.