With Halloween looming next weekend, I’m already getting pumped up for it. The festive parties, fun costumes, and entertaining venues give me more than enough reason to get excited– and considering my birthday comes just a few days before it, that’s double reason for the neighbors to get scared.
But the most frightening part of Halloween isn’t the haunted houses, the decorations, or even my plans this year: it’s the chemicals in your costume.
According to the Ecology Center’s HeathyStuff.org, “seasonal products, like thousands of other products we have tested, are full of dangerous chemicals.” That statement came from Jeff Gearhart, the director of research for HealthyStuff.org. He continues, saying how toxic chemicals continue showing up in many different seasonal products. Harmful chemicals found in consumer products have “unnecessary and avoidable health hazards” for the entire human race, he warns.
Researchers tested 106 Halloween costumes, accessories, and decorations from different popular costume locations and realized that a shocking number of them carried vinyl or PVC compounds, while another five percent carried lead greater than what’s considered safe. What’s more, 10 percent of the products held brominated flame retardants, 32 percent carried antimony (which is a synthetic fabric catalyst as well as a flame retardant), and 13 of the things studied carried tin (which could be serious endocrine disruptors).
Some of the worst offenders include costumes like the Toddler Batman Muscle Costume, which holds a whopping 290,000 ppm of phthalates (or 290 times the permitted limit for phthalates in children’s products according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission [CPSC]). Furthermore, it holds 120 ppm of lead in the mask and a monumental 860 ppm of bromine in the fabric.
For the girls, the Disney Cinderella dress from Target should strike fear in their hearts: it carries a whopping 100,000 ppm of bromine, suggesting the inclusion of flame retardants!
If you want to just avoid the fright that is store-bought costumes– both from a monetary perspective and health perspective– maybe try making your own costume! I’m going to be a pig in a blanket this year, and all I need is a pig nose accessory– I’ve already got blankets at home and a pink shirt from years ago (why did I ever have a pink shirt to begin with? Hmmm…), so I’m excited to unveil my creativity– and attention to human safety– this year!
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