Caroline’s Corner: Halloween 2009

I’ve been at CEH for a little more than three years, and it’s been impressive and exciting to see how much progress we’ve made during that time in getting lead out of places where it doesn’t belong. It also hasn’t hurt that, as a result of our work, Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, establishing the first-ever national limits on lead in products for children.

Our recent testing of Halloween products – everything from masks to a “bag o bugs” — found nothing that was in violation of the new federal lead standards. . This is good news for kids! This is good news for families! It’s also good news for all of you who worked hard to make the new law a reality!

However, we did find a few items that are made of vinyl. Vinyl and toxic chemicals are connected in so many ways – the chemicals that it’s made from, the solvents it contains, and the chemicals that make it soft – that staying clear of vinyl Halloween items seems like a good idea. Here’s what we found that’s made of vinyl: a mask, a glow-in-the-dark knife, a “Phantom of the Opera” doll, an inflatable pumpkin, and a Halloween plate. If you need these kinds of Halloween accessories, think about buying them at your favorite second-hand store.

Finally, I thought you might find my Halloween candy  shopping experience both interesting and amusing. My husband Al prides himself on not succumbing to all the “green” shopping which I find so important. I was curious to find out if there was a Halloween treat that we would both agree was a good thing to give to the few trick-or-treaters that brave our dark street and potholed driveway. As we walked around our local supermarket I pointed out the various organic and/or nutritious options for Halloween treats. He laughed. “Does it have to save the whales too?” I made him try a couple of them. He admitted that they did actually taste good, but pointed out that they were way more expensive than mainstream brand candies.

I had to admit he’s right. While it is becoming more possible to find affordable local and organic fruits and vegetables, there are still few inexpensive organic options for specialty items like candy. Folks who can afford it (and who plan ahead) can order organic candies online (for some examples, see ). If not, don’t feel guilty about those Smarties. It’s only once a year.