Costumes Containing Lead

By: Summer Knowles
By: Summer Knowles

October 25, 2005

There is a consumer alert tonight for parents shopping for Halloween costumes for their kids. It seems some outfits may contain a dangerous chemical.

Parents shopping for Halloween costumes might want to be a bit more cautious this year.

Local parents and grandparents say they would never knowingly buy a Halloween costume containing lead.

"Anything that I might feel that [there is] something wrong with, I will not buy," said Consumer Alinda Brown, who bought a costume from Kmart.

Some of the Halloween costumes at the store have warning labels on them indicating that the product contains lead, but not all of the labels are visible. In some cases they're covered up by black tape and black marker.

"It's not right to do that," said Brown.

Other consumers agree.

"I definitely lose faith in Kmart by putting a sticker over the warning," said Maria Critzer who recently bought her son a costume from the store.

Kmart's corporate office says it's an issue of mislabeling by the vendor and that the costumes do not contain enough lead to pose a health risk.

They also say they covered the labels up to prevent "undue concern" by consumers, but local parents aren't so happy with their decision.

"It makes me feel wrong that they've got to cover it up," said Wendy Shifflett. "I mean, they should at least let it be on there so you know what you're getting."

"I'm definitely upset, I think it's something they deliberately did to boost profit," said Critzer. "It doesn't seem they were looking out for the children or their customers at all."

Experts say overexposure to lead definitely poses a health risk, especially for children.

About 90% of the lead kids absorb goes throughout their entire body.

"It goes into the blood, it goes into tissues, and finally gets into the bone, and the bone is really a reservoir where it stays forever," explained Medical Toxicologist Chris Holstege.

This is Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, and experts say even though some costumes might contain a small percentage of lead, kids are much more likely to be overexposed to lead in the home.

The exposure normally comes from dust from lead-based paints.

If you'd like to learn more about lead poisoning prevention, you can contact the Virginia Department of Health's Office of Family Health Services at 877-668-7987.

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