Cancer-causing Asbestos Found In Imported Crayons and Toys

Childrens’ toys and crayons could contain an unwelcome surprise- asbestos, a toxic material that most people thought has been banned for decades, according to new research commissioned by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund.

Out of 28 boxes of crayons that were tested, four tested positively for asbestos. Some boxes were sold branded with the names of popular children’s characters like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mickey Mouse, and Power Rangers.

Out of 21 children’s crime scene fingerprint kits, two were found to have traces of asbestos. The testing, which used the most sensitive detection methods available, was done by government-certified Scientific Analytical Institute of Greensboro, N.C.

All crayons and toys that contained asbestos were made labelled as made in China and imported to the U.S.

Dr. Philip Landrigan, of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, internationally recognized asbestos expert, said in a news release:

“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.”

Inhaling high levels of asbestos over a long period of time may lead to build-up of the fibers in the lungs, which causes scarring, inflammation, and breathing disruption, according to the National Institutes of Health. Long-term risks include lung cancer and cancer of the lining of the lungs or abdomen.

It is possible that contaminated crayons release microscopic asbestos fibers as children draw with them. By the age of 10, an average American child wears down 730 crayons, according to Crayola, the world’s largest crayon manufacturer.

A complete list of the tested products can be found on the EWG site here.

Photo: Phil Roeder/flickr