27 October 2019, Quezon City. Think twice before spending: Some items that are offered for sale in celebration of Halloween may pose chemical and injury risks, especially for young children.
The EcoWaste Coalition, an advocate for a zero waste and toxics-free society, alerted consumers after identifying potential hazards in some Halloween costumes, decors and toys that the group obtained from local retailers.
The group purchased 35 Halloween products costing P25 to P199 each on October 25 and 26 from retailers in Monumento, Caloocan City; Quiapo, Manila City; Libertad, Pasay City; and Cubao, Quezon City.
“Our market investigation shows that many Halloween items, particularly children’s toys, are not properly registered with the health authorities and are oftentimes inadequately labeled or not labeled at all,” said Thony Dizon, Chemical Safety Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.
“Despite the national phase-out of lead-containing decorative paints, we still found some items coated with bright paints with high lead content,” he noted.
“This is very worrying as the consequences of childhood lead exposure can be lifelong,” he said, “as lead is toxic to multiple body systems, including children’s developing brains.”
Out of 35 samples, nine Halloween decorations, including four pumpkin figurine sets, three jack-o’-lanterns and two toy animals, were found to contain lead above the regulatory limit of 90 parts per million (ppm). The orange-painted jack-o’-lanterns, in particular, had dangerously high lead levels above 10,000 ppm.
The group also detected high antimony and bromine content in two Halloween hairbands, indicating the probable presence of toxic brominated flame retardants on the horse-shoe shaped recycled plastic material.
Also, a ceramic Halloween candy bowl was found to contain 262 ppm of cadmium.
The group likewise found light-up toys and hairbands powered by small button batteries that are not securely fastened.
“Such Halloween accessories and toys may pose chemical or choking risks for young children as the battery may easily detach from the item, get swallowed or placed in the ears or nostrils of a child,” Dizon said.
The group also found an item that is prone to catching on fire without usage instructions and precautionary warnings.
“While negative for heavy metals, we find an unlabeled costume mask with fake hair dangerous as the hair can easily catch fire and harm the child wearing it,” he said.
The group further warned consumers against the use of vampire-inspired accessories that come with “fake blood.”
“It’s hard to guess what makes up the ‘fake blood’ because of the absence of any labeling information. Parents should not allow such liquid of unknown composition to be ingested by a child,” stressed Dizon.
As a general rule, the EcoWaste Coalition advised consumers to be inquisitive when buying Halloween items, shun those that are not registered and labeled, and steer away from items that may cause injury or pose burn, chemical, choking, laceration, strangulation and other hazards.
For a safer Halloween celebration, the EcoWaste Coalition urged consumers, particularly parents, to consider the following “lucky seven” tips:
- Refrain from buying unlabeled and unregistered toys, carefully check the label, including the chemical safety and health information and usage instructions.
- Pick the right toys for the right age, and that are suited to a child’s ability and behavior.
- Shun painted toys unless these are certified as lead-safe.
- Avoid face paints unless guaranteed free of toxic metals and other cosmetic contaminants.
- Don’t buy toys that have small parts such as button batteries that can easily be pulled off and ingested.
- Reject polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic toys that may contain banned phthalates and other hazardous substances such as cadmium and lead.
- Refrain from buying toys that have a strong chemical or perfumed smell.