Asbestos fibers were detected in a number of children’s crayons and play crime lab kits by two government-certified laboratories.
A recent report by the Environmental Working Group Action Fund acknowledged “samples of four brands of children’s crayons and two kids’ crime scene fingerprint kits contain deadly asbestos fibers,” including crayons marketed with colorful characters like Mickey Mouse, Power Rangers, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The toy products that tested positive for asbestos were made in China and imported to the United States.
After reviewing the study, Dr. Philip Landrigan, an internationally recognized expert in the area of asbestos and other toxic materials and a former senior adviser to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on children’s environmental health, provided the following statement.
“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.”
EWG Action Fund reported a statement by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“There is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure for any type of asbestos fiber. Asbestos exposures as short in duration as a few days have caused mesothelioma in humans. Every occupational exposure to asbestos can cause injury or disease; every occupational exposure to asbestos contributes to the risk of getting an asbestos-related disease (OSHA 2015).”
Sonya Lunder, co-author and senior analyst at Environmental Working Group Action Fund, also commented on the recent report.
“There are no rules banning asbestos contamination in many consumer products and, to us, toys really stood out.”
Asbestos fibers can separate, causing the cancer-causing particles to be let loose into the air. The tiny fibers can be inhaled, leading to lung problems such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
In addition to the tiny asbestos fibers in crayons and toys being easily inhaled by children, experts are concerned that children eat crayons, or put toys with asbestos material in their mouths, increasing their health risk of toxic exposure.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposure to asbestos as a child means there’s more time for an asbestos-related illness to develop later in life.
The U.K. Committee on Carcinogenicity briefly cites the dangers of asbestos exposure in children.
“A child exposed to asbestos is 3.5 more likely than a 25-year-old to develop mesothelioma, a lung disease that is only caused by asbestos because of the long lag time between exposure and diagnosis.”
The recent report found asbestos in Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse crayons, Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons, Amscan Crayons, Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce crayons, Inside Intelligence Secret Spy kit (white fingerprint powder), and Toy “R” Us’ EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit (black fingerprint powder).
Sonya Lunder and her colleagues wrote that it’s unclear how the asbestos got into the crayons and crime kits, but it was likely a “contaminant of talc used as a binding agent in the crayons and in powder in the crime scene fingerprint kits.”
EWG Action Fund warns that asbestos is lethal, but it is still legal and it’s everywhere. Asbestos is also a known carcinogen—it kills up to 15,000 Americans a year.
[Featured image via Bliss-Imaging]