Toxic Dangers Lurking in Halloween Masks!

Kids and adults who are excitedly getting ready for Halloween should watch out for nasty chemicals lurking in some masks, props and face paints being sold in the market. Tests conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition on a variety of Halloween products showed them to contain high levels of heavy metals such as antimony, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury. Using an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, the group screened 60 products bought from P10 to P350 from top-ranked retail stores in Mandaluyong, Makati, Taguig and Quezon Cities, as well as from a booming bargain toy store in Divisoria, Manila.

halloween toxic products and masks

Out of 60 products, 17 (28%) were found to contain at least one toxic metal above levels of concern. Ten samples, in particular, contain excessive quantities of lead up to 2,091 parts per million (ppm), in violation of the US lead paint standard of 90 ppm. Out of these 17 tainted products, 7 had more than one toxic metal that raises the potential damage to health due to multiple exposures.

“Consumers are 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 Thony Dizon, Coordinator of the EcoWaste Coalition’s Project Protect.

Pediatric toxicologist Dr. Bessie Antonio of the East Avenue Medical Center, advised consumers to exercise caution when purchasing Halloween products. “Exposure to heavy metals in consumer products should be avoided as much as possible as these chemicals can cause adverse effects on human health and the environment.”

Some of the most toxic Halloween products found by the EcoWaste Coalition include:

halloween masks and items

1. A pirate mask for kids that has 2,091 ppm of lead, 1,885 ppm of chromium and 299 ppm of arsenic.

2. A scary white mask with blood that has 6,749 ppm of antimony and 117 ppm of lead.

3. A face paint with glitters that has 918 ppm of lead, 198 ppm of chromium, 80 ppm of arsenic and 7.9 ppm of mercury.

Ecowaste suggest the following ideas to make Halloween safer for kids:

1. Encourage your children to explore their creativity and make their own costumes without spending money by using recycled, eco-friendly materials. Check this site for some creative recycled Halloween costume ideas:

2. For face painting, especially for extra-ghostly effect, try honey or cold cream mixed with cornstarch (arina), cassava starch (gawgaw) or baby powder (pulbos) and food color. Get protected against allergenic, irritating and toxic ingredients, read this:

3. If you really need to buy any of those Halloween stuff, read the product label carefully and, aside from just asking “how much,” know what chemicals are present in the product. Assert your right to truthful product information, and your right to be protected against hazardous chemicals in products. 4. Make your children aware of the health effects of toys contaminated with harmful bacteria and chemicals. As a precaution against bacterial and chemical exposure, advise children not to put toys into their mouths, and remind them to wash their hands thoroughly before meals.