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Asbestos Found in Crayons and Toy Crime Lab Kits

Jul 10, 2015

The Environmental Working Group Action Fund has found asbestos in children's crayons and toy crime lab kits.

Four of 28 boxes of crayons and two of 21 toy crime lab kits tested positive for asbestos, according to a newly released report from the advocacy group, CNN reports. The EWG Action had a private lab test the items.

Breathing in microscopic asbestos fibers has been linked to health problems including lung disease, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the mesothelium, the protective lining that covers many of the body's internal organs. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to asbestos occurs when asbestos-containing material is disturbed, and when the particles become airborne. "Parents do need to be concerned about particular brands of products where asbestos was identified," said Dr. Jerry Paulson, the former chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Environmental Health, CNN reports. Dr. Paulson—who is not affiliated with the report—said the powder from the crime lab kits was of particular concern because "[p]owders make this material much more available to the lung, where asbestos does its damage." The asbestos was probably a contaminant of talc, which is sometimes used as a binding agent in crayons and in powder in the toy crime lab kits.

The crayons and toys containing asbestos were made in China and imported to the United States, according to the report. Affected crayon boxes included Amscan Crayons purchased at Party City, and Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons and Saban's Power Rangers Super Megaforce boxes purchased at Dollar Tree. Asbestos was found in the black fingerprint powder in the Edu Science Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit (, and the white fingerprint powder from the Inside Intelligence Secret Spy kit (, according to CNN.

The action fund conducted its study as a follow-up to earlier investigations, according to Sonya Lunder, the report's co-author. In 2000, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer found asbestos in crayons and in 2007 the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization found asbestos in a toy fingerprint kit. "It is really shocking to have had these two reports previously raise attention to the issue (and) have manufacturers pledge to pay more attention and to see there are still products on the shelf that have talc, which is contaminated with asbestos in many cases," Lunder told CNN.

CNN contacted importers, distributors and retailers named in the report for comment. Representatives from Amazon, MII Inc. and Buy-Rite could not be reached. The vice president of investor relations for Dollar Tree released a statement: "The safety of our customers is paramount and we work constantly to ensure our suppliers' products are compliant and safe. To that end, we have a very robust and stringent test program, which includes working with independent CPSC-accredited testing companies to ensure our suppliers' products meet all safety and legal standards." A spokesperson for Party City said its owner, Amscan, "is dedicated to ensuring that all of its products meet or exceed federal, state and municipal requirements." A Toys R Us spokeswoman said, "At this time, we are reviewing the referenced report, along with supplier test reports, to ensure full compliance to our strict safety standards."

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