Hazardous Chemicals Found in Halloween Supplies

by | Oct 28, 2014

HalloweenTarget, Walmart, Kroger, CVS, Party City and Walgreens are among the retailers whose Halloween costumes and party supplies contain hazardous chemicals, according to a study by the Ecology Center’s HealthyStuff.org project.

The project tested 106 Halloween related products, including costumes, accessories, decorations and party favors, and found chemicals that are linked to asthma, reproductive problems, developmental and learning disabilities, hormone problems and cancer.

However, 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.

Study highlights include:

  • Thirty-three of the 106 tested Halloween products contained polyvinyl chloride (vinyl or PVC) components.
  • Seventeen of the vinyl products were tested for phthalate plasticizers. Of these, two items contained phthalates that were recently banned by the Consumer Product Safety Commission in children’s products. Overall, 5 percent of all products were measured to have lead exceeding 100 ppm.
  • Ten percent of the products contained levels of bromine consistent with brominated flame retardants. Two trick-or-treat bags contained 28,000 ppm and 6,000 ppm bromine, respectively. Halloween light sets purchased at two different retailers contained similarly high amounts of bromine.
  • Many of the products with brominated flame retardants also contained high levels of antimony, suggesting an antimony-based flame retardant was used in addition to the brominated chemicals.
  • Thirty-nine percent of the vinyl products, ranging from dress-up shoes to a skeleton “light stick,” contained tin at levels suggesting organotin stabilizers. Vinyl products were twice as likely to contain tin as non-vinyl materials. Some forms of organotins are endocrine disruptors; other forms can impact the developing brain and damage the immune system.

In March, a study by HealthyStuff.org found that 71 percent of university-themed products sold at top retailers contained one or more hazardous chemicals, including arsenic, lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury and cadmium.

Last December, a collaborative study between HealthyStuff.org and VerdiGras found that beaded holiday garlands from a number of major retailers also contained hazardous chemicals.

Photo Credit: Halloween via Shutterstock

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