This is a press release by Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and Clean Water Action. I’m quoted in here as a concerned parent, wondering why we keep finding toxic chemicals in products marketed to our children.
A study released today by the Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow and Clean Water Action has found elevated levels of toxic chemicals in popular Halloween costumes, accessories and party supplies. The nonprofit Ecology Center tested 106 types of Halloween gear—purchased at national retailers such as CVS, Kroger, Party City, Target, Wal-Mart, and Walgreens—for substances linked to asthma, birth defects, learning disabilities, reproductive problems, liver toxicity and cancer. Advocates and parents in Massachusetts expressed outrage and dismay about the findings and called for legislators and retailers to act to ensure that consumer products are made safely.
“We found that seasonal products, like thousands of other products we have tested, are full of dangerous chemicals,” said Jeff Gearhart, HealthyStuff.org research director. “Poorly regulated toxic chemicals consistently show up in seasonal products. Hazardous chemicals in consumer products pose unnecessary and avoidable health hazards to children, consumers, communities, workers and our environment.”
“It is beyond scary that chemicals that have been known or suspected to be hazardous for many years are still turning up in products that are designed for and marketed to children,” said Elizabeth Saunders, Massachusetts Director for Clean Water Action. “And it’s outrageous that the government has done almost nothing to protect the health of everyday people from these hazards.”
Clean Water Action and the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow coalition are working to pass state and federal legislation to require consumer products to be made with the safest available alternatives. The groups are also collaborators in the Mind-the-Store campaign which is calling on the nation’s largest 10 retailers to end the use of 100+ hazardous chemicals.
HealthyStuff.org tested Halloween products for chemicals based on their toxicity or tendency to build up in people and the environment. These chemicals include lead, bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (vinyl/PVC plastic), phthalates, arsenic, and tin (organotins).
Some products contained multiple chemical hazards, including a Toddler Batman Costume whose belt contained 29% regulated phthalates, 340ppm tin, and lead in the lining of the mask at 120 ppm. Overall, 39% of the products contained tin at levels suggesting organotin stabilizers, which are endocrine disruptors and can damage the developing brain and immune system.
Saunders noted that Toddler Batman Costume is currently sold out at all Wal-mart stores in a 50 mile radius of Boston and on Wal-Mart’s website, suggesting that this highly toxic product is extremely popular among unsuspecting parents and children.
Parents in the Boston reacted to the news with outrage and dismay.
“It’s shocking to me that these toxic costumes and toys are sold completely legally, and that the government is doing nothing about it,” said Quanda Burrell, a South End mother of two. “My children love Halloween, my 9 year old will even wear her costume to bed, but I never knew that I could be harming my kids.”
“I put lots of time and effort into finding safe products for my children and giving advice to other parents, and in many cases even I can’t tell which costumes are safe and which aren’t,” said Lori Alper, mother of 3 from Bedford, and author of the blog Groovy Green Livin’. “We can’t keep leaving parents alone with this struggle, it’s time for state and federal legislators and retailers to step in.”
Upon hearing about the report, Michelle Gottlieb of Marblehead immediately worried about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Mikey costume that she just bought for her youngest son, Asher, “If it turns out to be toxic, then I’m going to be extremely upset, because there is no way that I could have known from looking at the packaging and he will be heartbroken if I have to tell him he can’t wear it.” Fortunately for Asher’s Mikey dreams but unfortunately for Michelle’s peace of mind, the costume was not included in the study.
The results of this study are available on the easy-to-use consumer website – www.HealthyStuff.org and build on recent HealthyStuff studies on back-to-school products, summer seasonal & beach products and university-themed products. The majority of these seasonal or specialty products routinely contain one or more toxic chemicals. Due to the fact that many consumer products are largely unregulated, the items tested sometimes have levels of toxic chemicals that exceed the regulated levels set for children’s products and toys.
In addition to finding many products with chemical hazards, HealthyStuff.org test data shows that many Halloween products do not contain dangerous substances, proving that safer products can be made. For example, the results show shifts in some products away from hazardous phthalate plasticizers to less hazardous non-phthalate plasticizers. The represents a market shift in the face of growing consumer and regulatory pressure.
SEE THE RESULTS HERE
It’s time to regulate consumer products so we don’t have to worry about this. Don’t you agree?!