When it comes to toy safety, most parents think about choking hazards from small pieces, lead paint, and possible risks of plastic toys. But we’d venture to guess that most don’t think about asbestos. But sure enough, new tests commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund have found asbestos in four brands of crayons purchased at major retail chains Party City and Dollar Tree.
The tests found asbestos in four of the 28 boxes of crayons tested, several marketed under the names of popular characters Power Rangers, Mickey Mouse, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. All were made in China and imported to the U.S.
How could this happen? It’s a scary thought: asbestos is a known carcinogen that kills up to 15,000 Americans a year. And children are at particular high risk. In fact, a child exposed to it is 3.5 times more likely than a 25-year-old to develop the lung disease mesothelioma. Symptoms may not be noticed for decades after exposure.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, says there is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure for any type of asbestos fiber. Yet asbestos is still a legal industrial material.
In 2000, the CPSC found asbestos in crayons but did not ban it or regulate it. Shockingly, only one state, Connecticut, has a ban in place that prohibits asbestos in children’s products.
Asbestos was also found in powder in two toy crime scene fingerprint kits.
What to Do
Be choosy about the types of crayons that you let your kids play with, even for a short time. Free—and cheaply made—crayons are available these days at most restaurants and schools. But they may come with scary risk. Check out an alternative that we love by Eco-Kids, made from bees wax, carnuba wax, soy wax, and mineral pigments.
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