“Get those crayons out of your mouth!” Most people have heard that growing up, and most have said it to their own kids. Now, there is a really good reason for not only getting certain crayons out of kids’ mouths, but out of the house as well. The crayons in question are Amscan Crayons, Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Crayons, Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons and Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce Crayons. Additionally, two children’s educational crime scene investigator kits that include loose powder for fingerprints, the Edu Science Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit with black fingerprint powder and the Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit with white fingerprint powder, are also cause for parental concern. In a report released last week, the Environmental Working Group (EWG), partnering with two independent, government-certified laboratories, revealed that the four brands of crayons and the loose fingerprint powder in the two crime scene investigator kits contain traces of asbestos. “There is no safe level of asbestos for anyone,” said New York pediatrician Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg. “It is toxic. It can cause cancer and it can cause lung cancer. And it is microscopic…if you inhale (the fibers), you don’t even know they’re in these products.” When it comes to children’s toys especially, no level of asbestos, not even trace amounts should be considered safe. Crayola, the word’s largest manufacturer of crayons in the world, estimates that by age 10, the average child has worn down 730 crayons.
Dr. Phillip Landrigan, professor of pediatrics and preventive medicine at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, stated, “Asbestos in toys poses an unacceptable risk to children, today as it did in 2000 and 2007, the last time test found the deadly substance in these children’s products.” According to the United Kingdom Committee on Carcinoginocity, a five-year-old child exposed to asbestos is 3.5 times more likely than a 25-year-old to develop mesothelioma, an incurable malignancy that attacks the lining of the lungs and other organs, or asbestosis, which makes breathing extremely painful and can lead to death from heart failure. The scientific community in general overwhelmingly agrees that there is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure, according to a statement the Collegium Ramazzini, an international society of doctors and scientists, released in 2010. Many people might think that asbestos is something that has been banned and has fallen out of use during the last 30 years, but the reality is that asbestos is still legal and it is still with us. It is still imported and still used. Additionally, products, including children’s toys, are also imported from places where manufacturing regulations are more lax. In the case of the four brands of crayons and the two crime scene kits, they were manufactured in China. The EWG obtained the crayons between February and May 2015 from Party City and the Dollar Tree, and ordered the crime kits online through Amazon.com and ToysRUs.com.
In a few short weeks, parents will be shopping for school supplies for their children. The EWG is getting out the word to parents to raise awareness of the asbestos issue. The website Asbestos Nation is one of its campaigns to keep parents informed of the asbestos risk in children’s products and what can be done to reduce that risk including the READ act (Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database) introduced in Congress in March of this year and now in the Committee on Environment and Public Works. The act would create a searchable, up-to-date database of products containing asbestos. One thing many scientist and doctors agree on is that although there has not yet been an official recall, consumers who purchased the crayons in question should take them back to the point of purchase for a refund, or just get rid of them. For more information on the asbestos issue, visit the website www.asbestosnation.org/. For more information on the READ act, go to https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/700/text.