Why is Asbestos in Kids Crayons?
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) launched a campaign entitled Asbestos Nation in order to bring awareness to the ongoing dangers of asbestos. If you’re like most Americans you may have assumed that this known carcinogen had been banned years ago. You would be wrong.
Asbestos is still legal and it’s found in a wide range of products such as vehicle brakes, vinyl floor tile, cement shingles, disc brake pads, drum brake linings, gaskets, clothing, and cement flat sheets. Where you may not have expected to find it is in children’s crayons and science kits.
Why Are Toxins Allowed in Crayons?
Asbestos contamination comes from talc used in crayons. When this was discovered in crayons 15 years ago U.S. manufacturers voluntarily agreed to remove talc from their crayon ingredients. But manufacturers from other countries have not done the same.
In tests commissioned by the EWG Action Fund, samples of children’s crayons and crime kits were found to contain asbestos. According to Sonya Lunder, Senior Analyst at EWG, none of the American made products tested contained asbestos, the crayons and kits that tested positive were imported from China.
Dr. Philip Landrigan, professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, told the EWG Action Fund, “Asbestos in toys poses an unacceptable risk to children, today as it did in 2000 and 2007, the last time tests found the deadly substance in these children’s products.” Landrigan is an internationally- recognized expert in the area of asbestos and other toxic materials and a former senior adviser to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on children’s environmental health.
Asbestos does not belong in children’s products
According to Crayola, the world’s largest crayon manufacturer, by age 10 the typical American child wears down 730 crayons (Crayola 2004). The concern is that while coloring, the crayons could release microscopic asbestos fibers, and let’s not forget that some children nibble on crayons.
The issue with the crime kits is the fingerprint powder. Children place dusting powder on a brush, blow off the excess and then dust for fingerprints, causing the contaminants to become airborne. Asbestos fibers that become lodged in the lungs can cause grave illness, whose symptoms may not show for decades. While some may argue the risk of asbestos exposure from coloring is relatively low, OSHA states; There is no “safe” level of asbestos exposure for any type of asbestos fiber. Asbestos exposures as short in duration as a few days have caused mesothelioma in humans. Every occupational exposure to asbestos can cause injury or disease; every occupational exposure to asbestos contributes to the risk of getting an asbestos-related disease (2015).
Children exposed to asbestos are at greater risk than adults
Certainly the health risks increase with individuals who work with asbestos in their daily jobs, but investigators have found asbestos related diseases in individuals with only brief exposures. It can take 10 to 40 years for symptoms of an asbestos related condition to appear. The increased risk for children is due to the lengthy amount of time between exposure and symptoms. Since a child may be exposed to asbestos at a very young age, there is more time for the asbestos related injury to develop. According to the U.K. Committee on Carcinogenicity, the lifetime risk of developing mesothelioma is predicted to be about 3.5 times greater for a child first exposed at age 5 compared to an adult exposed first at age 25 and about 5 times greater when compared to an adult first exposed at age 30.
What brands of children’s products tested contained asbestos?
Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Crayons
Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons
Sabans Power Rangers Super Megaforce Crayons
Eduscience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit-black fingerprint powder
Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit-white fingerprint powder
Actions you can take
Verify what kind of crayons your child’s school provides and purchase your own if necessary.
Bring your own crayons to a restaurant for your child to use on coloring mats.
Click on the link below and go to EWG and sign their petition demanding that retailers remove these asbestos containing products immediately.