The spookiest thing you might encounter this Halloween is something you can't see -- and it has nothing to do with ghosts or ghouls.
Toxic chemicals with links to cancer, asthma, hormone-disruption and a number of other health problems can be hidden in many Halloween items found on store shelves -- including costumes, makeup and decorations. While this is a scary fact for trick-or-treaters of all ages, there are a number of ways to make your Halloween more about the treats and less about the toxics this year.
1. Make your own makeup
While you're out shopping for makeup, be sure to take our Toxic Ten Pocket Shopping Guide with you to know which chemicals to avoid. One of the best ways to make sure your face makeup is toxic-free is to make your own. We shared a great recipe for a face makeup on our blog last year. Here's an easy DIY recipe from healthystuff.org:
Combine light corn syrup, a dash of castile liquid soap (for easy clean up after) and red food colouring. If you want darker blood, add a dash of blue or some chocolate syrup
2. Green your costume
Planning to buy a costume this year? Some store-bought costumes can contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC products can leach toxic additives, like phthalates, throughout their use. Phthalates are added to PVC products to make them softer and more flexible, but these chemicals are known to disrupt hormones. While shopping for a costume, check the label to make sure it's PVC-free.
Alternatively, if you're crafty, you can always make your costume from items already in your closet or items from a used-clothing store. Or you can organize a costume swap with you and your friends to reuse costumes from previous years. Try to avoid plastic items because they could contain PVC.
3. Toxics in toys
Glow sticks might be fun to play with in the dark but they could contain dibutyl phthalate, which is a hormone-disruptor. If your kids are playing with glow sticks, keep an eye out and make sure they're not broken or open. If you want your kids to have a light with them for safety reasons, some manufacturers are now offering eco-friendly flashlights. Check out this fun cat-shaped one!
Does your kid's costume need a fake crown or pearls? In 2011, Health Canada proposed draft guidelines to keep cadmium out of children's jewelry. However, since this is a fairly recent development, some products with cadmium may still be on shelves. For that reason we advise consumers to avoid kids jewelry items made of metal, which may contain the toxic substance.
By following the above simple tips, you can go a long way to making this year's Halloween scary fun and not scary toxic. Also, be sure to sign up for our Toxic Nation newsletter to receive toxics news and toxic-eliminating tips all year long.
Wishing you all a safe and toxic-free Halloween!
Stay away from anyone playing with firecrackers
Don’t go near any animals you do not know
Never go into alleys, parking lots, wooded areas, or vacant lots
Start trick-or-treating early and finish early
Always stay in your own neighbourhood and know where there is a safe house that you can go to if you need help
Wear good shoes, such as runners, so you won’t trip. Be very careful if you wear high heels or have a long costume
Never eat any fresh fruit or home-made treats unless you know where they came from
Do not eat any of your treats before you get home. Have your parents check all the candy so that they can throw away anything that is not wrapped in a sealed wrapper
Cross the street in a crosswalk or at a well-lit corner. Look both ways before crossing the road
Use the sidewalk. Do not run across lawns or gardens
Wear make-up instead of a mask. You will be able to see better if you are wearing make-up
For adults attending nightclubs and other licenced premises, a reminder that you still need to be identifiable, whether wearing a mask or make-up
Do not go inside the house or car of anyone you don’t know
Do not go to houses that have their lights out
Dress warm, including a hat and mitts
Wear a bright-coloured costume with reflective tape, and carry a flashlight - drivers might not be able to see you in the dark
Do not go trick-or-treating alone; Let your parents or responsible person know where you will be and for how long