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Boo! Standards Keep Halloween Safe and Delightfully Spooky

Every year, millions of people celebrate Halloween by dressing up in costumes and taking the rare opportunity to be someone (or something) else for the night. And whether you're walking door-to-door in pursuit of candy, or enjoying a glass of wine at a late-night Halloween party, voluntary consensus standards help to keep your celebration of this spookiest of holidays safe and fun.

While most kids' primary objective during trick-or-treating is to maximize the amount of candy they can gather, parents are more focused on making sure children get to enjoy this annual ritual in a safe and responsible manner. Many parents take along handheld flashlights to inspect candy, light kids' paths, and help illuminate potential health and safety risks along the way. Powering these devices requires batteries, and IEC 60086-1 Ed. 11.0 b:2011, Primary batteries - Part 1: General, provides nomenclature, test methods, information on typical performance and safety aspects of primary batteries. The standard - which is intended to assist consumers, designers, and manufacturers - was developed by International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Technical Committee (TC) 35, Primary Cells and Batteries. The U.S.'s Michael Babiak of Energizer serves as the chair of IEC TC 35, with ANSI member and accredited standards developer the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) serving as the United States National Committee (USNC)-approved Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator for this TC.

The use of flashlights and parental common sense can help to safeguard kids from common trick-or-treating risks, but something more is needed to keep the costumes that children wear from posing a potential threat of their own. Thankfully, an International Standard from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) provides important fire-related guidance in connection with wigs, fake beards, masks, and other popular elements of children's Halloween costumes. ISO 8124-2:2007, Safety of toys - Part 2: Flammability, sets down which categories of flammable materials may not be included in any children's toy, and provides requirements connected with the flammability of certain toys when exposed to minor amounts of flame. The International Standard was developed by ISO TC 181, Safety of Toys; ANSI member and accredited standards developer the Toy Industry Association (TIA) currently serves as the ANSI-accredited U.S. TAG Administrator to ISO TC 181.

Halloween Fun Facts

  • In 2012, a total of 41.1 millions children between the ages of 5 and 14 went trick-or-treating, along with many others older and younger than that range.
  • The U.S. has more than 1,500 manufacturing establishments producing candy, confectionary goods, and cocoa products as of 2011. California is the leading state for manufacturers of both chocolate and cocoa products, and nonchocolate confectionary products, with 122 chocolate and cocoa manufacturers and 56 nonchocolate confectionary manufacturers.
  • U.S. farmers harvested 47,800 acres of pumpkins, worth an estimated total of $148.9 million, in 2012. Illinois grew more pumpkins than any other state, producing more than 556 million pounds of this fall staple - that's a lot of jack-o-lanterns!

--Courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau.

While standards play an important role in assuring the safety of children and adults during Halloween activities, they also have a part to play in making the holiday come alive. When decorating your home for a Halloween party, fake cobwebs are an easy way to make even a gleaming, well-cleaned kitchen look like a witch's lair (for one night, at least). A standard developed by ANSI-accredited standards developer and organizational member the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) provides important guidance connected to the harvesting of cotton, a common element in fake cobwebs. ASAE S582 MAR2005 (R2010), Cotton Gins - Method of Utilizing Emission Factors In Determining Emission Parameters, provides information on procedures for calculating air pollution emissions parameters in connection with the operation of cotton gins.

For adults seeking kid-free Halloween activities, costume soirees provide a different way to celebrate the holiday. And what could be more grown-up and seasonally appropriate than a delicious fall-themed cocktail like bourbon-spiked pumpkin horchata. ISO 6577:2002, Nutmeg, whole or broken, and mace, whole or in pieces (Myristica fragrans Houtt.) -- Specification, specifies requirements for nutmeg, an essential ingredient in horchata and a wide array of seasonal cocktails, lattes, and desserts. The International Standard, which covers nutmeg and mace taken from nutmeg trees for commercial purposes, was developed by ISO TC 34, Food products, Subcommittee (SC) 7, Spices and condiments. ANSI member the American Oil Chemists' Society (AOCS) serves as the ANSI-accredited administrator of the U.S. TAG to ISO TC 34 and SC 7.

No matter what costume you wear or activity you choose to celebrate this year's Halloween, voluntary standards will be on hand to help make the holiday enjoyable and safe.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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