New report warns parents of toxic chemicals in Halloween face paint



SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) — A new report released today says parents should avoid painting their kids’ faces this Halloween because some of the chemicals found in some of the face paints are toxic.

“Pretty Scary 2: Unmasking Toxic Chemicals in Kids’ Makeup” was spearheaded by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and released by the Breast Cancer Fund and the California Public Interest Research Group.

The report says that of the 48 Halloween face paints tested, 21 had trace amounts of at least one heavy metal and some had as many as four.

Lead was found in nearly 20 percent of the paints and cadmium in nearly 30 percent.

Lead is linked to learning disabilities and developmental problems in children and cadmium is linked to breast, kidney, lung and prostate cancers, according to the report.

Sharima Rasanayagam, director of science for the Breast Cancer Fund, said the fund was involved in the report because exposure to risk factors earlier in life can lead to an increased risk for breast cancer later in life.

Some chemicals found in cosmetics are hormone disruptors and breast cancer is a hormonally driven disease, Rasanayagam said.

“It’s a lifetime of exposure that contributes to our risk of breast cancer and other chronic diseases,” she said.

Researchers like to think that exposures to things such as face paint are something people can control, she said.

The report is an update to a 2009 study where researchers tested 10 Halloween face paints for the presence of heavy metals and found lead in all 10.

Rasanayagam said cosmetic companies would say that the levels of the chemicals in the face paints and other cosmetics are low enough to be safe. But more and more evidence is indicating otherwise and the timing of exposure matters, she said.

Neither the Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors nor the American Cosmetics Manufacturers Association could be immediately reached for comment.

Stacy Malkan, an El Cerrito mom and author of “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry,” said any toxic exposure to kids should be concerning.

But she said the point is not to scare parents but to empower them.

The fund and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics said part of the solution is better federal regulations. The groups claim the existing cosmetic safety law is more than 75 years old.

Theresa Eisenman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said face paint is regulated as a cosmetic, but face paints do not need pre-market approval, with the exception of color additives.

Companies are legally responsible for the safety of their products, but federal officials rely solely on consumers and their doctors to report any adverse reactions to cosmetics such as face paint, Eisenman said.

Advocates for safety such as the Breast Cancer Fund said other solutions might involve consumers calling for safer products and retailers adopting policies to improve the safety of products sold in stores.

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