Some children's face paints are laced with undisclosed heavy metals that are known to be both acutely poisonous and to cause long-term health problems, ranging from skin sensitivity and brain damage.
The testing, by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a coalition of health and environmental groups, found that many face paints -- including those used in Halloween costume makeup -- often contain lead, nickel, cobalt and chromium. None of those ingredients, however, were listed on product packaging.
The testing was limited to 10 Halloween face paint products bought at a seasonal store, but disturbing enough: All 10 costume makeups contained detectable amounts of lead, which is such a well-known pollutant that the federal government has banned or severely restricted its use in gasoline, paint and -- most recently -- toys. Exposure to lead is known to cause permanent brain damage, particularly if children are exposed in the womb or during the first six years of life, and can lead to a lifetime of problems ranging from learning disabilities to violent tendencies.
Six of the 10 Halloween face paints tested had nickel, cobalt and/or chromium, all of which exceeded voluntary industry safety guidelines, and all of which could cause allergic reactions in some people, according to the Campaign fro Safe Cosmetics.
At least one Halloween costume makeup labeled "non-toxic" and "hypoallergenic" -- Snazaroo Face Paint -- contained some of the highest levels of lead, nickel and cobalt detected by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' study.
The report also found many hazardous ingredients listed on the labels of Halloween hair-color sprays and make-up products, including butane (persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic), thiram (neurotoxic, possibly carcinogenic, used as a pesticide), alumina (neurotoxic), propylene glycol (possibly carcinogenic) and pigment green 7 and pigment blue 15, which are not approved by FDA for use in cosmetics.
According to the Campaign, these ingredients aren't listed on Halloween face paints because they aren't main ingredients and the Food and Drug Administration doesn't require the industry to label "contaminants." That doesn't mean they couldn't cause harm, or that parents wouldn't want to know about them before choosing costume makeup for use on their children's face.
See these 10 ways to protect your children from toxic face paint, or see the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics' DIY face paint recipes. If you feel your child has been exposed to lead, contact your healthcare provider, and make sure the child is getting a diet full of calcium, iron and Vitamin C, which can help counteract lead poisoning.
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