The Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund recently discovered trace amounts of asbestos in children’s crayons and toy crime lab kits. Although the amount of asbestos found in these products is minimal, there are no safe levels of of exposure according to the National Cancer Institute and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Asbestos is a naturally-occurring mineral used for its fire-resistant and insulating properties. The mineral consists of microscopic fibers that can be inhaled or ingested. Once consumed, asbestos slowly mutates healthy cells in the body, which may eventually become mesothelioma cells.
How the EWG Action Fund Found Asbestos
The EWG Action Fund stresses on its website that asbestos is still legally used in products in the United States, a fact many Americans are unaware of. It’s part of the group’s mission to inform and educate people about the continued use of asbestos in the U.S.
The EWG Action Fund is also dedicated to learning which products contain asbestos. There are well-known products that still use asbestos such as brake pads and construction materials.
The EWG Action Fund tested 28 boxes of crayons and 21 toy crime lab kits of different brands. The action fund outsourced the tests to a private lab, which confirmed the presence of asbestos in four brands of crayons and two brands of toy crime lab kits.
Toy Brands Containing Asbestos
- Amscan Crayons
- Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Crayons
- Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons
- Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce Crayons
- EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit
- Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit
All the children’s products that contained asbestos were imported from China, according the action fund. This is a surprisingly common practice, as much of the asbestos in America is legally imported.
How Dangerous Is the Asbestos in These Products?
Most cases of asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma and asbestosis, are caused by occupational exposure to asbestos. Before the U.S. government enacted regulations on asbestos, workers in construction and trade industries constantly handled the deadly mineral.
Yet, there have been many cases of people with no occupational exposure developing mesothelioma. While it’s rare, some of those cases have been caused by products found in the home. Asbestos has even been found in cosmetic talcum powder. Now crayons and toy crime lab kits are among the list of unlikely products tainted with asbestos.
There’s no way to be sure the risk these toys pose to children and families. There are many variables involved. But some studies suggest children may have a higher risk than adults of developing an asbestos-related disease.
The Centers for Disease Control cites the concentration, duration and frequency of asbestos exposure as risk factors for disease. The type of asbestos is also a factor, as certain types of asbestos are more likely to cause cancer.
The biggest risk to children, however, is the latency period of diseases like mesothelioma. It takes decades for asbestos-related diseases to develop. The U.K. Committee on Carcinogenicity suggests the latency period is why a child is more susceptible; based on average life expectancy of a human, children simply have more time to develop a disease than an adult.