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Is There Asbestos in Your Child’s Crayons?

According to a new report conducted by the Environmental Working Group Action Fund (EWG) that was released this Wednesday, certain crayons and children’s crime-scene kits contain trace amounts of asbestos. The asbestos fibers were said to be found on four types of crayons and two children’s crime-scene fingerprinting kits. The brands that contained these fibers were Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crayons, Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Jumbo Crayons and Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce Jumbo Crayons and ones by a manufacturer known as Amscan. The crime-scene kits in question were EduScience’s Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit and Inside Intelligence’s Secret Spy Kit. The crayon products were purchased at a Party City store and a Dollar Tree store in the San Francisco area, while the crime-scene kits were purchased online via Amazon.com and Toys”R”Us.com. The primary concern seems to be with the finger-printing products, as they contain a higher concentration level of asbestos fibers.

A senior-analyst for EWG, Sonya Lunder, has stated that she and others involved with writing the report found these developments to be surprising. According to Lunder, manufacturers of both the crayons and the crime-scene kits were said to have already addressed this matter and to have stopped producing products that contained asbestos fibers years ago. Lunder went on to say that since these particular items were manufactured in China, tracing their supply chain in order to enforce asbestos-free pledges would be difficult.

In the past, crayons were called into question for containing the carcinogen in 2000, while similar crime-scene kits were also found to have the same contamination in their products in 2007. At the time, retailers and health experts alike expressed concerns for these findings and called for manufacturers to regulate the items to be sure that they no longer contained asbestos fibers before allowing them to  be placed on the market for sale.

According to a representative for Toys “R” Us, who have distributed the EduScience’s Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit, said that customer safety is their highest priority and that they will look into the product further to determine whether or not it is safe to continue selling. Kathleen Waugh, the vice president of communication for Toys “R” Us issued a statement saying that all of the products carried within their company have met all standards, codes and requirements prior to being sold at the stores. They plan to review all reports on the matter in order to remain in compliance with every possible safety standard. The other companies and manufacturers in question have not presented comment at this time.

Asbestos, which is primarily composed of long string-like fibers, was commonly used in insulation material before the U.S. National Institutes of Health (among countless other organizations) found that asbestos exposure can lead to cancer and mesothelioma development. Once this alarming realization occurred, all products containing asbestos were discontinued and removed from homes and workplaces that contained these insulation products. There are still multiple cases emerging of people developing lung cancer and mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, even to this day.

Due to the fact that asbestos fibers are small and impossible to see, it makes them all the more dangerous. Primarily, asbestos can cause the most amount of damage when it has been inhaled, since the fibers can scar and inflame breathing passages and lungs. Asbestos exposure can not only cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, but it has also been known to cause an extremely rare form of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs and the abdomen as well.

During the investigation, the EWG tested over 28 brands of crayons and 21 finger print kits before finding that the ones listed previously were the only ones to contain asbestos fibers. And while some people believe that these fibers cannot cause harm to the children that are using them—primarily because the fibers are not being inhaled by the children while they are using the items—it is still an area of concern for many. Asbestos was prohibited in the U.S. as well as all other well-developed nations. This ban is in place for a reason, and manufacturers across the world should be abiding by the same regulations during production.

 

Since the reports were confirmed by two independent labs—both the Scientific Analytical Institute from Greensboro, N.C. and a second unnamed independent lab used in relation to conducting the research, the claims should be taken seriously. Former United States Attorney General Richard Lemen, who now serves as a professor for Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta, has said that these developments are substantial. He has said, “Even if the absolute risk is relatively low, children are more vulnerable to toxic material and carcinogens”. Lamen went on to say, “…because they are so young they have a longer latency in which to develop these diseases, which are known to be diseases that develop over time.”

 

The hope following this situation is that these products will be investigated further and promptly removed from stores if the information detailed in the EWG report is found to be true. No word has been given at the present time what the following course of action will be after this report’s publication.