In late 2018 and early 2019, we tested 56 beaded necklaces collected from Gasparilla parades in Florida and from Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, Louisiana. For necklaces that contained multiple bead colors or pendants, we tested these different components separately.

Of 66 components tested in the 56 necklaces, We found most of them contained high levels of bromine (70% of tested samples) and antimony (64% of tested samples), strongly suggesting the presence of brominated flame retardants and antimony trioxide. Most of these beads also contained levels of chlorine consistent with the presence of chlorinated flame retardants.

One-third (33%) of the samples contained over 100 parts per million (ppm) lead, ranging as high as 472 ppm. 100 ppm is the limit allowed in children's products in the United States.

Additional tests done only on the Gasparilla beads found that 12 out of 14 contained a triaryl phosphate chemical, likely a derivative of triphenyl phosphate. These phosphates are used as flame retardants or as plasticizers. 

Download Mardi Gras Bead Report Data, Ecology Center 2020

These results aren't surprising. The Healthy Stuff Lab has tested Mardi Gras beads in the past. For one of our past studies, we dug deep and verified with third-party research labs that beads with high bromine measured by XRF contained multiple brominated flame retardants. Even PBDEs, which are no longer used in the U.S. due to their toxicity and persistence in our environment, were detected. Details of those analyses are in the paper we published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Environmental Protection in 2016.

Why are toxic chemicals present in so many Mardi Gras-type beads and at such significant levels? The short answer: Electronic waste. E-waste includes plastic housings of devices like computers, phones, and more. Those plastics are infused with flame retardant chemicals. Our prior research found strong evidence that these beads are made from recycled e-waste plastic.

Published on February 24, 2020

Sample Listing

Krewe of Nyx Pink Handbag and Round Beads
Bacchus Large Gold Round Beads
Bacchus Large Purple Cylindrical Beads
Bacchus Large Silver Round Beads
Bacchus Large Silver Round Beads
Bacchus Small Gold Cylindrical Beads
Bacchus Small Gold Cylindrical Beads
Bacchus Small Green Cylindrical Beads
Bacchus Small Purple Cylindrical Beads
Bacchus Small Silver Cylindrical Beads
Endymion Copper/Gold Beads
Endymion Copper/Gold Beads
Endymion Gold Beads
Endymion Gold Beads
Endymion Gold Beads
Endymion Gold Beads
Endymion Gold Beads
Endymion Gold Beads
Endymion Gold Beads
Endymion Gold Beads
Gasparilla beads blue mixed
Gasparilla beads blue round
Gasparilla beads gold disco
Gasparilla beads green disco
Gasparilla beads green round large
Gasparilla beads green round small
Gasparilla beads metallic pink round
Gasparilla beads pink matte round
Gasparilla beads purple round
Gasparilla beads red diamond
Gasparilla beads red hearts
Gasparilla beads red round
Gasparilla beads red skull and bones
Gasparilla beads white round
Gold King Cake Baby
Gold Round Beads with Large Mixed Color Cleopatra Ornaments
Green Beads with Funky Fox Pendant
Green King Cake Baby
Krewe of Alla Butterfly Plushy
Krewe of Alla Large Pink Round Beads
Krewe of Alla Purple Round Beads
Krewe of Alla Round Gold Beads
Krewe of Cleopatra Glasses
Krewe of Freret Red Round and Flat Oval Legion of Mars Beads
Krewe of Freret Ring
Krewe of Freret Yellow Purple Green Chain
Krewe of Nyx Eiffel Tower and Mixed Color Beads with Pendant
Krewe of Nyx Pink Handbag and Round Beads
Krewe of Nyx Round Pink Beads
Krewe of Sparta Fish and Small Silver Round Beads


IMPORTANT NOTE: ratings do not provide a measure of health risk or chemical exposure associated with any individual product, or any individual element or related chemical.