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Children’s face paint can pose lead risk

Halloween is coming up in Toronto, and the safety issues associated with face masks have lead to an increase in the use of face paint for Halloween costumes in recent years.

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics was founded in 2004 by several groups, including the Environmental Working group, Friends of the Earth, the Breast Cancer Fund and the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow. It is based in the United States, and works to raise awareness about toxins in cosmetic products as well as change legislation to increase the regulations on what can be put in cosmetics.

In 2009, the group conducted heavy metal tests in an independent lab on 10 different children’s face paints that were sold around Halloween at a seasonal holiday store. Each of the products was geared towards use for Halloween costumes, and the results were spooky:

– One brand that contained the words “non-toxic” and “hypo-allergenic” tested among the highest for amounts of cobalt, nickel and lead.

– Approximately 60 per cent of the face paints exceeded industry safety recommendations for amounts of nickel, cobalt and chromium.

Industry recommendations are 1 part per million (ppm), while the paints ranged from containing 1.6 ppm to 120 ppm. The scariest finding?

– 10 out of 10 children’s face paints tested contained lead, anywhere from 0.05 ppm to 0.65 ppm.

Lead can delay or damage the development of the brain in children and the ingestion of high amounts can cause poisoning. It’s of particular danger to children because it must be ingested, and children are more likely to put their fingers in their mouths after touching their faces or touching the paint itself. The other metals such as nickel, lead, cobalt, chromium and cadmium may be used as dyes or agents in a number of products. Some of these can cause poisoning and development issues similar to lead, while others are actually serious allergens that can lead to contact dermatitis and sensitization.

Unfortunately in this case these metals were contaminants not intended to be in the paints, which is why they were not listed on the label. ~ Providing Lead Testing and Cadmium Testing Services in Toronto, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and Southwest and Central Ontario. Contact us today in Toronto at (416) 575-6111; Mississauga (905) 905-824-5733; Southwest Ontario (London, Sarnia, Windsor) (519) 434-0796; Barrie (705) 719-0746 or Toll Free 1-866-310-4219.

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