Coloring with crayons has been an American tradition since the late 1800s. Since that time, the wax crayon has been instrumental in teaching children how to draw and imagine the world in a rainbow of colors.
Although the words “non-toxic” appear on crayon boxes designated for children’s use, a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund says that asbestos fibers have been found in crayons and other toys sold in the United States.
The fibers were found in four brands of crayons and two children’s crime-scene toy fingerprint kits.
The contaminated crayons included Nickelodeon's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crayons, Disney's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Jumbo Crayons and Saban's Power Rangers Super Megaforce Jumbo Crayons and ones by Amscan, according to the new report.
Asbestos was also found in two crime lab toys: EduScience's Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit, and Inside Intelligence's Secret Spy Kit.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that asbestos, which is composed of long, thin mineral fibers, once was common in insulation material.
Though tiny and invisible to the naked eye, airborne asbestos fibers are easily inhaled. With time, scarring, inflammation and breathing impairment can occur, as can lung cancer and mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lining of the lungs and abdomen, according to the NIH.
Asbestos is no longer widely used in manufacturing in the United States. It is banned in nearly all other developed nations, the research group said.
EWG hired an independent company, Scientific Analytical Institute from Greensboro, N.C., to conduct so-called transmission electron microscopy tests to look for asbestos. This is said to be the most sensitive and accurate method of testing available.
EWG said that a second independent lab reconfirmed the crayons and toys that tested positive.
"Just a couple of fibers can lodge in your lungs and be there forever," said Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst with the Washington, D.C. based group. "And there's very clear evidence that asbestos leads to two forms of cancer, and thousands and thousands of Americans have been killed by fiber exposure."
Former U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Richard Lemen welcomed the report.
"These are important findings, because asbestos is being placed in children's products," said Lemen, now an adjunct professor with Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta.
"Even if the absolute risk is relatively low, children are more vulnerable to toxic material and carcinogens," he said. "And because they are so young they have a longer latency in which to develop these diseases, which are known to be diseases that develop over time."
The crayons were purchased between February and May of this year at two national chains -- Party City and Dollar Tree -- in a suburban county near San Francisco. The group said it ordered the two crime scene toys through Amazon.com and Toys"R"Us.com.
For analysis, 28 brands of crayons were tested and 21 toy fingerprint kits. All the products that tested positive were made in China.
A spokeswoman for Toys "R" Us, which distributes the EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit, responded to the report, saying customer safety is the company's highest priority.
"We require that every product we carry meets or exceeds all applicable state and federal laws, industry standards, codes and requirements. At this time, we are reviewing the referenced report, along with supplier test reports, to ensure full compliance to our strict safety standards," Kathleen Waugh, vice president of corporate communications, said in a statement.
The tests discovered the highest concentration of asbestos was found in the toy crime-scene fingerprint kits.
If your child is one of the millions that play with crayons or the crime lab kits, be sure to check the brand to make sure they are not one of the contaminated products or kits that tested positive for asbestos.
Source: Alan Mozes, http://consumer.healthday.com/cancer-information-5/lung-cancer-news-100/asbestos-found-in-kids-crayons-toy-crime-kits-701117.html