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Lawsuit Filed Over Asbestos Laden CSI Toy Kit

Apr 14, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization—a California asbestos victims advocacy group—filed a lawsuit Friday against CBS Corporation, a toy maker, and several retailers over the sale of a crime scene toy based on the CBS series “CSI:  Crime Scene Investigation.”  The group said laboratory tests confirmed the CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit contained asbestos in a powder used for fingerprint dusting.  Planet Toys, Inc., manufacturer of the CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit, removed the  dangerous toys from the market late last year; however, it maintains that multiple tests did not reveal asbestos.

The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, said tests showed the kits’ fingerprint powder contained “substantial quantities of tremolite asbestos,” which it described as “one of the most lethal forms of asbestos.”  On its Web site, Planet Toys indicated it issued a “stop sale” on all “’CSI Fingerprint Kits’ until further information can be ascertained as to the discrepancy between our respective test findings.”  The asbestos group wants to stop sales of the kits unless they carry a hazardous material warning and is seeking full refund for return of the kits.

In early December, the Department of Consumer Protection stopped the sale of the CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit in Connecticut.  “With the success of crime shows like CSI, it's no surprise that kids want to get in on the excitement by pretending to be crime scene investigators, but our own investigation of the CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit identified a real-life culprit that must be promptly eliminated,” said Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell, Jr.  “We are immediately embargoing and recalling this item in Connecticut.”  The Department purchased the toys and Farrell Jr. contacted the Department of Public Health to request testing.

Meanwhile, the asbestos awareness advocacy group conducted a study with three independent labs and revealed in very early December that the CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit contained two types of asbestos; however, kits remained on the shelves for weeks in Connecticut and continued to be sold elsewhere.  According to the study, the CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit contained high levels—five percent were found in the powder—of two asbestos types.  Department inspectors embargoed the product statewide and contacted the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).  In late December, Planet Toys finally asked stores to pull its product from their shelves.

According to Farrell, “Lab results indicate that the composition and crystalline structure of the fibers is most consistent with tremolite, a form of asbestos and a toxic hazardous substance.  Given the potential health hazards associated with any asbestos contact, we are removing the item from sale immediately and are asking consumers to take swift measures to make sure their children aren’t exposed to the product.  There is no ‘safe’ level of asbestos.”

Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the federal Department of Health and Human Services.  Breathing high levels of asbestos fibers is linked to increased risks of lung cancer, mesothelioma—a cancer of the lining of the chest and abdominal cavity—and asbestosis—in which lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.  Many feel using asbestos-containing products may explain—in part—why some non-smokers and persons with no occupational exposures develop these diseases.


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