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Toxins Make Halloween Face Paints Scary
Date:10/27/2009

n for consumer products.

Earlier this year, a face paint from China was recalled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when some children had rashes and itching; the FDA later found microbial contamination in the product.

Malkan says more oversight is needed by the FDA to regulate products, including face paints. Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to premarket approval by the FDA, except color additives. Recalls of cosmetics are done voluntarily by manufacturers or distributors if products are found hazardous or deceptive; the FDA can take regulatory action through the federal court system. But this level of oversight is not strong enough, Malkan and others believe.

What's a parent to do? Using the face paint just once a year "is probably not going to do anything at all [healthwise]," contended Dr. Dennis Woo, former chair of pediatrics at Santa Monica-UCLA and Orthopaedic Hospital, Santa Monica, Calif., who reviewed the report. But he said he is surprised by the amounts of heavy metals found in the face paints. "We should start looking at this stuff. There's no reason these heavy metals need to be in cosmetics."

His colleague, Dr. Wally Ghurabi, chief of emergency services, Santa Monica-UCLA and Orthopaedic Hospital, believes that even once-a-year use of the face paints may not be worth it. "Concerned parents should skip it," he said. If those who apply the paints aren't careful, he said, and get the paint too close to the eyes or nose, that could be potentially harmful.

Malkan, too, votes that parents avoid face-paint use in children. But if you are using them, the FDA advises that parents:

  • Follow directions carefully, including instructions not to use the products around the eyes.
  • If the face paint smells bad, don't use it as it could be contaminated.
  • Consider a test of the face paint a few days before Halloween to be sure your child doesn't get an allergic rea
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