A few weeks ago, I wrote about the toxins - including arsenic, antimony, cadmium, and lead - that had been found in some Halloween masks and props marketed to children. Today, the news is out about the shipment of over 1,300 children's costumes that were recently seized by U.S. Customs officials after investigators found that some contained almost 40 times the legal limit for lead. All of this certainly has me thinking about whether or not my own children's Halloween costumes are safe.
In this recent incident, federal inspectors seized nearly over 1,300 Chinese-made pirate costumes that had been shipped to Washington and were headed to a Seattle-area distributor. According to US Customs agents, the costumes had high levels of lead in the buttons, trim and accessory pieces.
In this NBC video, you can watch how the federal inspectors found that the costume's pirate eye-patch contained almost 40 times the legal limit for lead. And this is in a costume piece that will sit directly on a child's face!
So how safe is your child's costume? Well, this particular batch of costumes was destroyed, so you don't have to worry in that regard. But what about the pirate, princess, or peacock costume that you got in the mail last week? Unless you have a handy-dandy X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer, there is no way for you to know for sure. But you can check the Consumer Product Safety Commission website for up-to-date information on specific Halloween costume items that have been recalled due to lead content.
And if you haven't purchased a costume yet, you might want to consider purchasing a gently used costume or putting together a DIY costume from items you already have around the house. It will not only save you money, but it may save you the worry about unknown toxins and chemicals.