October 24, 2019

How to Keep the Air Clean on Halloween?

Air Pollution

Halloween can be a lot of fun for both adults and kids, however there are some pollution concerns you should be aware of.

Many of our favorite Halloween activities can be sources of air pollutants, which may put those with asthma or allergies at risk.

Photo by Colton Sturgeon

As a spokesperson for the American Lung Association Brian W. Christman, M.D confirmed: "Halloween activities can be filled with asthma triggers that many parents wouldn't suspect, like masks or makeup".

The following tips from ATMO® will help you to stay well and breathe cleaner  while you enjoy the festivities:

1. Costumes and accessories

Halloween costumes are mass-produced and often are made of cheap materials that can be hazardous. Sometimes they give off a very strong smell and this is a bad sign. Chemical tests on Halloween costumes and accessories conducted by HealthyStuff.org showed that many of them contain toxic chemicals like bromine (brominated flame retardants), chlorine (vinyl/PVC plastic), and phthalates. These substances can be released throughout their life cycle and have a negative impact on the brain and immune system.

  • Try to avoid vinyl products and select PVC-free or natural materials for costumes and decorations. Make sure to air everything out before wearing it.
  • Kids with respiratory issues are advised not to wear any masks as they block easy breathing.
  • Costumes and masks are seasonal products, which means they’re being stored for long periods of time. They can collect dust mites and mold spores. New products can also carry dust mites, so it’s best to wash them with antifungal laundry detergent.

2. Makeup

Photo by Salvador Altamirano

The more unrecognizable your face is at the party, the better, with people using dark face paints to look as scary as possible. However, darker paints may contain a high concentration of heavy metals. Lab testing presented in this 2016 report showed that children’s cosmetics and face paints contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as toluene and benzene which negatively impact our brain and nervous system.

  • It’s advised to use organic, plant-based cosmetics that use natural pigments from fruits, vegetables, flowers, and other botanicals.
  • Wash your makeup off as soon as the party is over.
  • When you’re applying your makeup, try to do it in a well-ventilated room.

3. Air quality monitors and air purifiers

Atmotube PRO

During the celebration, monitor air quality with a portable real-time and hyper-local air quality tracker, Atmotube PRO, and use air purifiers with at least MERV 13 filters. Atmotube PRO measures PM1, PM2.5, PM10, TVOCs, temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. It alerts you when air quality is getting worse. You can check the air in different parts of the celebration location to identify the source of pollution and immediately take action, such as opening the windows and turning on ventilation and air purifiers.

4. Scented candles

Regular paraffin scented candles are a huge source of indoor air pollution. When burned, paraffin creates highly toxic chemicals that can be harmful to people with respiratory conditions.

Some candles have a wick wrapped around metal which produces soot.

  • You can use battery-powered candles to light a jack-o’-lantern.
  • Go for alternatives such as soy-based candles which release a minimal amount of air pollutants compared to paraffin ones.

5. Smoke machines

Photo by Alexis Montero

Smoke machines are a great way to create a spooky atmosphere on Halloween, however some people are still wondering whether air filled with fog is still safe to breathe.

Fog machines use water, dry ice, and liquid nitrogen to create a fog effect, and sometimes extra chemicals can be added, for example, glycol in water-based fog. People with asthma may experience coughing, chest tightness and other asthma symptoms if they have been exposed to water-based fog. Even in a person without asthma, short term exposure to glycol-containing fog machines can lead to headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, and eye irritation.

  • If you choose to use a smoke machine keep the air conditioner running to circulate the air.
  • Choose a smoke machine that uses liquid air rather than water-based as this type of machine doesn’t reduce the oxygen level in the room.

Another couple of recommendations:

  • Don’t burn household waste in bonfires if you plan to have one on Halloween as it can release highly toxic substances into the air.
  • Your kids might like to jump on piles of leaves, but keep in mind that wet leaves grow mold and fungus. Even pumpkin pulp and seeds perish and produce mold, so dispose of them while carving pumpkins. Mold spores can trigger some symptoms like watery eyes and a stuffy nose.
  • Colored smoke bombs inside jack-o-lanterns and Halloween-themed costume portraits with smoke grenades are the latest trends. Even if manufacturers claim that smoke ingredients aren’t toxic, be aware that deep inhalation of smoke can lead to breathing difficulties and trigger asthma attacks.

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