Shedding Light in the Darkness

Is Your Child Coloring With Asbestos?


You may have heard about an alarming new report that revealed some brands of kid’s crayons contain asbestos. The Environmental Working Group Action Fund found that four brands of children’s crayons out of 28 boxes tested – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and Mickey Mouse – along with two of 21 children fingerprint kits contained asbestos.

“Asbestos in toys poses an unacceptable risk to children, today as it did in 2000 and 2007, the last time tests found the deadly substance in these children’s products,” said Dr. Philip Landrigan, professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, in a statement. He reviewed, but was not involved in, the study.

Experts say there is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure. Even short exposures—just a few days—can cause serious lung problems, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“There are no rules banning asbestos contamination in many consumer products and, to us, toys really stood out,” said Sonya Lunder, report co-author and senior analyst at Environmental Working Group Action Fund.

In 2000 the Seattle Post Intelligencer newspaper had crayons tested and found asbestos in three popular brands. Seven years later, asbestos was found in crime kits.

So how did asbestos get in crayons? It was likely a “contaminant of talc used as a binding agent in the crayons and in powder in the crime scene fingerprint kits,” Lunder and colleagues wrote, adding that asbestos is often found near talc deposits.Lunder hopes the report will prompt the safety commission to ban talc in children products.

The suspect crayons came from China. American crayon manufacturers have largely stopped using talc after previous asbestos findings.

“Clearly some toy manufacturers haven’t done enough to protect children and others from asbestos in consumer products,” Dr. Landrigan said. “It’s high-time the federal government bans asbestos in consumer products,”


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