Toxic lead Levels in children’s Halloween face paints

28 October 2011

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has found a children’s face paint with excessive levels of lead being sold on the Australian market in the lead up to Halloween.

The “Horror Make Up” was tested during a product safety survey which targeted toxic elements in products aimed at young children. The face paint has been recalled and consumers should return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund.

“Parents and carers are advised to immediately remove it from your children immediately, and contact the supplier for more information.”ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said.

“Children are especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of lead and other toxic elements, which is why the ACCC enforces a mandatory standard for lead and other toxic elements in toys and finger paints,” Ms Court said.

Lead is toxic and can be absorbed through swallowing, chewing, inhalation or skin contact. Lead accumulates in the body and can have permanent adverse effects on children’s physical and mental health. In some cases, children have died from lead poisoning.

The product safety survey covered 95 children’s products from a wide range of brands sold at various chain and independent retailers across Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT. Only one of the 95 products failed to meet the mandatory standard.

“The vast majority of the products surveyed were found to comply with the mandatory standard. This is good news for parents of young children. However even one non-compliant product is one too many,” Ms Court said.

Products surveyed included finger, face and body paints (for children), toy-style make-up, modelling clays, play dough and plasticine, sticky ‘goo’ toys (such as slime, goo, noise putty and splat frogs) and art paints, crayons and pastels.

“If your children are using products that are applied to their skin, such as make-up, face and body paints, or toys that are handled a lot and may leave residues such as play dough and ‘goo,’ ensure you wash them thoroughly from your children’s skin immediately after use.”

Suppliers of children’s toys with possible toxic elements must ensure that their products meet all requirements of the mandatory standard before making the products available for sale.

“Anyone in the supply chain – from manufacturers to retailers – selling unsafe children’s products in Australia is not only endangering the health of Australian children, but may also be liable for heavy fines and expensive recalls,” Ms Court said.

Under Australian Consumer Law, fines for selling products that do not comply with mandatory standards or bans are up to $1.1m for a company or up to $220,000 for an individual.

Parents and carers are also urged to visit the Recalls Australia website for details on the recall, including a list of retail outlets where the product was sold.

For more information on children’s product safety, mandatory standards and bans, call the ACCC Infocentre on 1300 302 502 or follow us on Twitter @ProductSafetyAU.

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Release number: 
NR 201/11
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