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Color Us Scared! Dangerous Chemical Found in Kids' Crayons, Toys

The Short of It

For the third time in 14 years, the Environmental Working Group has found asbestos in crayons and kids' toy crime scene investigation kits that were made in China.

The Lowdown

The EWG released scientific analysis Wednesday that finds small amounts of asbestos in crayons and other toys sold at Dollar Tree, Party City stores, ToysRUs.com and Amazon.com. Although previous reports—one in 2000 and one in 2007—found similar results, the problem persists.

Not all of the crayons and toys the EWG Action Fund tested were found to contain asbestos, but here are the items that were found to contain trace amounts:

  • Amscan Crayons
  • Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse crayons
  • Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle crayons
  • Saban's Power Rangers Super Megaforce crayons
  • EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit
  • Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are no safe levels of asbestos exposure. So, although only small amounts were found in the tests, they could still pose a potentially deadly hazard for kids.

"The results are significant because even trace exposure to asbestos can cause cancer and other fatal lung disease," study co-author Sonya Lunder said.

According to Asbestos Nation, kids exposed to asbestos are 3.5 times more likely than a 25-year-old to develop mesothelioma. Frighteningly, symptoms don't manifest right away; it will be much later that a person is diagnosed with this type of lung disease, which is only caused by asbestos.

It is thought that crayons contaminated with asbestos release tiny, microscopic fibers as children color and the crayons wear down. In the case of the fingerprinting powder in the crime scene investigation kits, the fibers pose an inhalation risk.

The Upshot

Federal health officials became aware of this issue in 2000 when the EWG first performed their tests. But they've failed to enact a ban on asbestos in kids' toys, although a bill to do so is finally being considered in Congress. It is possible to make crayons without using talc, which releases the contaminant. For instance, Crayola has not been using talc as a binding agent in its crayons since 2000.

What do you think of these findings?

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