Halloween costume

Making sure their costumes are safe

With Halloween right around the corner, it's alarming to hear news that a shipment of over 1,300 children's costumes were destroyed due to lead levels that were 11 times the legal limit. It makes you wonder — is your child's Halloween costume safe?

Lead-contaminated Halloween costumes destroyed

If your daughter was anxiously awaiting the arrival of her pirate costume in the mail, you might want to start researching another option. According to King5 News in Seattle, an entire shipment of Halloween costumes was detained and destroyed there today because the levels of lead in the plastic elements of these bright and fun costumes was 11 times the legal limit, making them a danger to would-be trick-or-treaters. A similar costume is pictured in this article and currently available via various online retailers.

According to Customs and Boarder Protection Officers and the Consumer Product Safety Investigators — the two government agencies who are on constant patrol for unsafe toys and children's products arriving in the United States — they will be doing the same nationwide to any other shipments of costumes that were originated from the same Chinese port.

Is there lead in my child's costume?

Although we're relieved to hear that these particular costumes were destroyed, now we're feeling a little paranoid about the Halloween costume that our child has been wearing since it arrived in the mail three weeks ago — does it contain lead too? There's no way to truly tell once you have it in your hands. The Consumer Product Safety Center (CPSC) does its best with the technology they have at hand, which is quite effective, to cut down on products entering the United States via our ports to insure that those products are safe for children, from toys to clothing to costumes such as these, and you can trust that they take issues such as lead levels very seriously.

You can also check the CPSC website for up-to-date information on specific children's items that have been recalled due to lead content.

Still searching for the perfect Halloween costume for yourself? These celebrity-inspired Halloween costumes will make you laugh >>

How to ditch the possibility of lead in the future

  1. Buy new: Yes, brand-new costumes are going to cost you more, but hitting up thrift shops or second-hand stores for Halloween costumes for your children — where the costumes are older — is more likely to put them in danger of having a costume that contains lead.
  2. Buy American: Products for children, such as Halloween costumes, are held to stricter manufacturing guidelines in the United States than in some countries which import similar goods to our country. In fact, thanks to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, all products for children under age 12 must be tested by an approved lab for harmful chemicals.
  3. DIY Costumes: Sorry to say Mom, but busting out that sewing machine that's collecting dust in the back of your linen closet is another great way to have a lead-free Halloween. You can even choose from organic-fiber fabrics to not just keep things lead-free, but as "green" as possible for your little ghost or goblin.

More on Halloween

Make Halloween work for you all year
Ultimate Halloween costume guide
3 Witch-inspired Halloween lunch box treats


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Comments on "Does your child's Halloween costume contain lead?"

Michelle October 28, 2012 | 7:34 AM

We had an early evening of trick or treating at my sons school. My son wore a zombie costume bought from target, complete with plastic mask. We only walked the school parking lot, which is not very big. My son never ate any candy. Yet on the way home he complained of feeling like he was going to throw up. We talked about why he might be feeling this way, and it hit me. Could it be his mask? These costumes smell strange to begin with and then you take a plastic or rubber mask and enclose your face with it. I cant imagine all the toxic fumes that might be leaching from the masks straight into my child's little lungs. Maybe I am over reacting, and over thinking this...but its got me worried!

Katie October 17, 2012 | 1:56 PM

Wow, this is pretty scary. Thanks for the heads-up. I agree that it's best to buy new, and you can actually find costumes on sale at certain stores so they're not too expensive.

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