Hello Halloween, hello spooky toxins galore. Halloween is such a fun time of year, especially for our littles. I mean, who doesn’t love dressing up and eating tons of candy? With these haunted celebrations, though, also comes a greater exposure to harmful toxins. It may not seem like a big deal since it’s such a short period of time, but it’s important to note that low levels of chemical exposure can still cause issues, especially for developing brains and bodies, so doing what you can to limit exposure can make a big difference.
In 2014, the Ecology Center conducted a study on Halloween products sold at several top retailers, including 44 costumes, 40 accessories, and 22 decorations and party favors. The results of their tests indicated that heavy metals including lead, as well as flame retardants, organotins and phthalates were present in a large percentage of the Halloween costumes and accessories. These chemicals have been shown to play a role in respiratory impairment, reproductive problems, neurodevelopmental disorders, hormone disruption, and some are possible carcinogens.
Scary, right? Let’s talk solutions and how we can help to lessen exposure to these scary toxins during the next few weeks:
OPT FOR CANDY WITHOUT ARTIFICIAL DYES OR NON-CANDY TREATS
Target + Costco now have organic candy, non-candy food options including pop- corn bags, Halloween pencils and more for your bowls. Our favorites are Yum Earth, Alter Eco, Torie & Howard, and Surf Sweets. My kiddos have a tough time with red dye in particular. We finally linked red dye to joint pain at night in one kiddo and a slight swelling in my other kiddo’s facial features – crazy, huh?! Over the past few years we have let our kids choose their favorites and then "buy" the rest back from them, trade it for the toy, or have the "candy fairy" come while they are sleeping.
CHOOSE SAFER MAKEUP + MAKEUP REMOVERS
In 2016, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners found that kids’ face paint and makeup contains toxins, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium and lead. They also found other creepy chemicals, such as toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, lurking both on and off the labels.
Choose a safer makeup that is tested for heavy metals, including lead and cadmium. Asbestos has also been a culprit in cosmetics using talc (famously Justiceand Claire's). I recommend Beautycounter (always tested for these contaminants) or Natural Earth Paint Face Paint.
WASH THOSE LITTLE HANDS AND YOUR'S, TOO
Many costumes contain PVC, which is often contaminated with lead and phthalates, a serious endocrine disruptor. That doesn't mean you have to avoid them - just be sure to wash your hands often (before eating especially) and shower before bed. Also, consider wearing clothing between your skin and the costume.
If your costume is particularly stinky with chemicals, let it air out outside of the package ahead of time and consider expediting the off-gassing process by baking them in the sun or inside heat. You can also seek out PVC-free or flame retardant-free costumes, costumes from the thrift store, hand me downs, or make your own. On a different note, Glo sticks are fun, but they aren't without toxins – it’s important to wash your hands after using these and definitely avoid putting the liquid in your mouth (phthalate city – yikes!).
BONUS POINTS FOR ECO-FRIENDLY GOODS
I found these cute reusable Halloween-themed bags from Mighty Nest for my kiddos to use as candy bags this year – and, of course, many years to come!
And, how fun are these non-toxic pumpkin candles? I plan to use these for our Halloween party and Thanksgiving (we’re hosting for the first time ever this year!). When purchasing candles, look for lead-free wicks, either unscented or scented with essentials oils – never synthetic fragrance – and candles made from beeswax as the main component. Big Dipper Waxworks candles are my favorite.
According to Big Dipper, beeswax is “100% natural and a renewable resource that actually cleans the air by emitting purifying negative ions. Most candles are made with paraffin, a petroleum by-product, which is not natural and is unhealthy to burn. To prepare it for candle making, it is chemically bleached and hardened, then artificially scented. Burning paraffin emits harmful, black soot and pollutes the air.” Yuck! No thank you. Big Dipper also has incredible holiday candles, too. They smell so good and I hear they make great gifts, especially when paired with Beautycounter gift sets.