Toxic Halloween face paint creates a scare
Many products found to include lead and skin allergens.
Thu, Oct 29, 2009 at 04:45 PM
For this year’s Halloween, kids may want to forgo the typical scary face paint, according to advocacy group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, which recently found common face paint products to contain lead and known skin allergens.
Of course, this isn’t the first time the organization has found toxic chemicals in consumer products. In 2007, the campaign group tested and found lead in numerous top-selling lipsticks. Not surprisingly, its findings prompted the FDA to conduct its own tests, which also found lead in lipsticks.
The campaign’s most recent report is, “Pretty Scary: Could Halloween Face Paint Cause Lifelong Health Problems?”
According to the report, independent lab tests found that all 10 paints tested contained low levels of lead, ranging from .05 to .65 parts per million.
Of course, no amount of lead exposure is safe for children because it can lead to learning and behavioral problems, according to the EPA.
In addition to lead, the tests also found that six out of 10 face paint products contained potent allergens such as nickel, chromium and cobalt at levels far above the safety recommendations of industry studies.
To top it off, the report also uncovered major labeling discrepancies on the products. For example, many companies labeled their products as hypoallergenic when they were anything but.
One company’s product, Snazaroo Face Paint, which was advertised as nontoxic and hypoallergenic, had some of the highest levels of nickel, cobalt and lead, said the campaign’s cofounder Stacy Malkan to U.S. News and World Report.
Technically, hypoallergenic doesn’t really mean anything because there is currently no legal definition for this term and no watchdog or oversight agency to enforce the validity of its claims, explained the authors of the report.
It’s kind of like the word “natural,” which is found on many consumer items but has no legal definition and is therefore unregulated.
So how does lead and chromium end up in face paints anyway?
Through a lack of manufacture testing and regulatory oversight, claims the report, which states that the FDA should “require that raw materials be tested for purity, that ingredients in cosmetics be shown to be safe for children and other vulnerable populations, and that all chemical constituents in personal care products, including fragrance ingredients and contaminants, be listed on ingredient labels.”
Unfortunately, its rather unlikely that the FDA will be heeding the organization’s advice anytime soon considering that it has yet to even act on the lipstick findings, as MNN blogger Siel Ju reported back in February.
In the meantime, here are some tips offered by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics on how to limit your children’s exposure to toxic chemicals:
• Choose costumes that don't require face paint or masks (which may also contain toxic chemicals and impair vision and breathing).
• Make your own face paint with food-grade ingredients. Here are a few recipe ideas.
• If you do use face paint, keep it away from kids’ mouths and hands so they don't ingest it.