Asbestos In Children’s Crayons

James F. Humphreys & Associates, L.C. has represented thousands of people who have been injured by exposure to asbestos. Some of the products which have contained asbestos may surprise you. For example, a consumer group recently reported that children’s crayons sold at a popular discount store contained a form of asbestos fibers.

In August 2018, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) stated in its annual report on school supplies that green Playskool crayons sold by Dollar Tree contained small amounts of asbestos. PIRG urged Playskool and Dollar Tree to remove asbestos tainted crayons from their stores and contact customers to warn them about the crayons. The crayons in question were manufactured in China, and did not have an AP (Approved Product) seal. The AP stamp means that a product has been certified as non-toxic by The Art and Creative Materials Institute,  (ACMI), a manufacturer’s association that promotes safety standards in art materials. 

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

PIRG also tested five other brands of crayons ( Crayola, Rose Art, Up & Up, Cra-Z-Art, and Disney’s Mickey and the Roadsters Racers crayons)which were found to be asbestos free. According to Kara Cook-Schultz, education fund toxics director for PIRG, it is unnecessary for crayons to contain asbestos, we know how to make crayons without asbestos, and most crayons do not have asbestos. She also said that when they tested crayons for asbestos three years ago, there were “all sorts” of brands that tested positive.  Hasbro, the parent company of Playskool, has stated that it will conduct its own thorough investigation of this issue.

Sadly, as Cook-Schultz noted, this is not the first time that asbestos has been found in children’s crayons. In 2015, the Environmental Working Group Action Fund reported that four brands of crayons manufactured in China contained asbestos. These brands included Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Crayons and Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Reacting to this disclosure, Amazon, Party City, Toys R Us, and Dollar Tree stopped selling these crayons.

Before that incident, on May 23, 2000, the Seattle Post- Intelligencer reported finding asbestos in three brands of crayons, Crayola, Prang, and Rose Art. The specific forms of asbestos reported by the laboratories used by the newspaper, tremolite, chrysotile, and anthophyllite, were believed to be present in the talc used by the manufacturers as a binding agent.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) conducted its own tests in 2000, and found small amounts of anthophyllite asbestos in Crayola and Prang crayons, but not in the Rose Art crayons.  Although the CPSC staff concluded that the small amounts of asbestos contained in some crayons presented little risk to children through either inhalation or ingestion, they asked the industry to reformulate crayons using ingredients that did not contain asbestos. Binney and Smith (maker of Crayola crayons) and Dixon Ticonderoga (maker of Prang crayons) agreed to reformulate within a year, while Rose Art stated that they had stopped using talc in 90% of their crayons 15 months before, and would reformulate the remaining percentage of their crayons made with talc. 

It is disappointing that 18 years after the CPSC report, asbestos is still being reported in children’s crayons. Although the risk appears to be minimal, there is no reason why asbestos, a known carcinogen, should be in these products.   In buying art supplies, parents should look for the AP non-toxic label. Parents can also check with manufacturers to see if they have a Children’s Product Certificate, which guarantees that a product was made in a factory following CPSC standards.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by exposure to asbestos, contact us at 304-347-5050 (local) or 877-341-2595 (toll-free) for a free initial consultation. You may also contact us at our website, http://www.jfhumphreys.com.      

Sources

Jenni Fink, “Playschool Crayons Sold At Dollar Tree Found To Contain Asbestos, Hasbro Conducting Investigation,” 8/8/18 http://www/newsweek.com/playskool-crayons-sold-dollar-tree-found-contain-asbestos-10

Ashleigh Jackson, 8/8/18, “Crayons Sold At Dollar Tree Test Positive For Asbestos, Advocacy Group Says,” http://www.cbs46.com/story/38838313/crayons-sold-at-dollar-tree-test-postive-for-asbest

Seidman, 8/7/18  “Crayons Bought At Discount Store Test Positive For Asbestos, Group Says,” https://abcnews.go.com/US/crayons-bought-disscount-store-test-positive-asbestos-group/sto…   

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, CPSC Staff Report on Asbestos Fibers in Children’s Crayons (August 2000)

Angela Lashbrook, The Atlantic, 8/9/18 “A Toxic Substance Has Been Found in Crayons Again,” https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2018/08/asbestos-crayons-kids…/567131/

Kathy Kristoff, Moneywatch, 8/8/18, “Asbestos Found in Some Crayons, Consumer Group Finds,” https://www.cbsnews.com.MoneyWatch>Money

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