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Oct 31, 2012 by KAREN FOSTER
Before Sending Your Kids Out For Halloween, Read This Warning First

Halloween is a very unique time of year because we can't help but get caught in the excitement of children on their festivities, but at the same time we also get caught up in consumerism and the endorsing of toxic treats. Here are some very important warnings you should consider before sending loved ones on their Halloween journey.

Halloween Face Paint

Halloween costume makeup is recommended as a good alternative to masks for kids who will be walking the streets trick-or-treating, since masks can obscure vision.

But Halloween face paint can have toxic ingredients (like lead and mercury) if not formulated according to the law; it can cause reactions in those who are allergic to certain ingredients; and it can cause reactions if applied to the wrong parts of the body.

Here are some simple recommendations to keep safe:

1. Don't decorate your face with products, paints, and colorings that aren't intended for your skin (and check out The Daily Green's 14 favorite homemade Halloween costumes for kids and adults).

2. Before using new Halloween costume makeup, perform a simple patch test, particularly if you or your child is prone to allergic reactions, a few days before Halloween.

3. Read ingredient lists and don't buy any product that has fluorescent colors.
ou can identify fluorescent colorings by looking for the following ingredients:

  • D&C Orange No. 5, No. 10, and No. 11
  • D&C Red No. 21, No. 22, No. 27 and No. 28
  • D&C Yellow No. 7

4. Don't use luminescent (glow-in-the-dark) colors (like zinc sulfide) near eyes.

5. Use products that have Paraben/Phthalates/PCB-free ingredients whenever possible. These should contain no traces of these harsh chemicals. Parabens and phthalates are found in the ingredient list of a product, while PCBs can be found in the plastic of the product's container.

6. Wash thoroughly (and follow label instructions) once trick-or-treating or the party is over. Don't go to sleep with Halloween costume makeup on your skin.

Hair Coloring and Allergies

Allergy to hair dye is soaring in numerous countries. The culprit is para-phenylenediamine (PPD) and its cousins in a chemical family called aromatic amines, the mainstay of hair dyes for more than a century.

Allergic response to PPD is well-documented, causing eczema on the face or around the hairline, but in some cases the reaction is so severe that the victim's face swells up and causes painful bruising, needing hospital treatment.

Keep away from contact with chemicals that include PPD as an ingredient. Read all product labels if possible to be sure ingredients do not mention PPD.

Stay away from makeup containing PPD. Refrain from peeling oranges -- a natural product that often contains PPD -- and request a friend or family member to do it for you.

Lead Contamination in Toys

Paint used to cover Halloween candy buckets and even fake teeth may be contaminated with lead, according to a 2008 study in the journal Science of the Total Environment. The study tested 95 seasonal or holiday products, many of which had a Halloween or Easter theme. Twelve of the products were found to contain levels of lead that were higher than U.S. regulatory limit of 0.06 percent by weight.

Among the tainted products were witch- and skull-shaped candy buckets, a Frankenstein drinking cup, and yes, fake teeth. The so-called "ugly teeth" were painted orange and contained levels of lead in excess of 6 percent, the researchers said. Because this product may end up in a child's mouth, the findings are cause for concern, they said. Lead is a neurotoxin.

Glow Stick "Poisoning"

Calls to poison control centers reporting glow stick "poisoning" appear to increase during Halloween. A 2009 study of calls to a New Jersey poison control center found there were 139 calls related to glow stick products between 2002 and 2007, and the day with highest number of calls, 59, was Halloween 2007.

Halloween Diarrhea

Candy flavored with the sugar substitute sorbitol can cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems. Sorbitol has fewer calories than sugar, and so it is often used in "dietetic" candies, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

When adults consume 10 to 50 grams of sorbitol, they may experience a range of gastrointestinal symptoms, from mild gas and bloating to cramps and serve diarrhea. Children may be affected by smaller amounts.

Candy Is Not Food

Keep in mind that candy in general is full of sugar, glucose, fructose and all sorts of sweeteners that are not particularly good for anybody's health. Many brands of candy are outright toxic.

If you really want kids to enjoy Halloween, let them have fun trick or treating, but once they get home, you may have to throw out about 90 percent of what they collect. Substitute your own healthy organic chocolate and candies made with organic ingredients. For example, look for rice syrup, tapioca syrup, acerola berry, black current, carrots and pumpkin. These ingredients are typically found in many organic candies and they have more nutritional benefits than any conventional halloween candy.

Happy trick or treating. Be safe. Be healthy. But most of all have fun.

Karen Foster is a holistic nutritionist, avid blogger, with five kids and an active lifestyle that keeps her in pursuit of the healthiest path towards a life of balance.

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