Buying Halloween stuff? Check the label for harmful chemicals
Parents buying Halloween masks and props early may be in for a real-life scare as many such items contain health-threatening chemicals, an ecological group warned Monday.
EcoWaste Coalition said it found many Halloween items containing high levels of antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury.
“Consumers are literally kept in the dark about these creepy substances in some Halloween products. It’s high time for manufacturers, importers, distributors and retailers to fully disclose the chemical contents of the products they make and sell, and replace toxic chemicals with safer substitutes,” said Project Protect coordinator Anthony Dizon.
The group also lamented none of the samples listed information about their chemical ingredients in their packaging.
Pediatric toxicologist Bessie Antonio of the East Avenue Medical Center asked consumers to be careful when buying Halloween products.
Antonio, vice president of the Philippine Society of Clinical and Occupational Toxicology, also said exposure to heavy metals in consumer products "can cause adverse effects on human health and the environment.”
Samples in Metro Manila
The group used an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer to screen 60 samples being sold for P10 to P350 at retail stores in Mandaluyong, Makati, Taguig and Quezon Cities, and in Manila's commercial Divisoria district.
It bought the samples last Sept. 26 and 27, and screened them Sept. 28.
Seventeen of the 60 products sampled were found to have at least one toxic metal above levels of concern.
The group said 10 samples yielded excessive quantities of lead up to 2,091 parts per million (ppm). The US lead paint standard is 90 ppm.
Of the 17 products with toxic metals, seven had more than one toxic metal, which increases the risk of potential damage to health.
Some of the most toxic Halloween products found by the group include:
- a pirate mask with 2,091 ppm of lead, 1,885 ppm of chromium and 299 ppm of arsenic;
- a scary white mask with blood that has 6,749 ppm of antimony and 117 ppm of lead; and
- a face paint with glitter that has 918 ppm of lead, 198 ppm of chromium, 80 ppm of arsenic and 7.9 ppm of mercury.
Dizon said test results also showed “43 samples had low or non-detectable levels of heavy metals indicating the technical and commercial viability of producing products without toxic metals."
But the group said the absence or low detection of heavy metals in some of the samples does not mean the product is really safe.
It said the tests excluded other chemicals such as phthalates in products made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC materials.
The group suggested ways for parents to make Halloween safer for their children:
- Encourage children to be more creative and make their own costumes using recycled, eco-friendly materials.
- For face painting, use natural materials such as honey or cold cream mixed with cornstarch (arina), cassava starch (gawgaw) or baby powder (pulbos) and food color.
- When buying Halloween stuff, read the label carefully to see what chemicals were used in making the product.
- Inform children of the health effects of toys with harmful bacteria and chemicals. Warn them against putting toys in their mouths, and encourage them to wash their hands before eating.
–KG, GMA News
Talk of the web