Four brands of crayons from Party City and Dollar Tree and two crime lab kits from Toys “R” Us and Buy-Rite have been removed from shelves after the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action fund’s asbestos investigation into children’s products last month.
The actual investigation was conducted by the Scientific Analytical Institute of Greensboro, NC, which is an independent laboratory. A total of 28 boxes of crayons were tested and four contained the known carcinogen. Those positive for asbestos included Amscan Crayons, Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce.
Out of the 21 toy crime scene fingerprint kits tested, two came back positive for asbestos. These included the EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit with black fingerprint powder and the Inside Secret Spy kit with white fingerprint powder – both with concentrations at one percent.
In response, Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Dick Durbin (D-III) sent letters to the retailers requesting they voluntarily discontinue selling these products that tested positive for asbestos fibers, remove the remaining ones left on the shelves, and let customers return any toys that were previously purchased.
“This is an exposure that could easily be avoided. The threshold for exposing a kid to a carcinogenic chemical when they’re playing with toys should be zero,” said the EWG’s Senior Researcher, Sonya Lunder. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there is no “safe” amount of exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos exposure can lead to the fatal mesothelioma cancer. Due to its latency period, these children may not become diagnosed until their adult years decades later if they inhaled asbestos fibers.
Not only did all four retailers act in accordance to the letters, but also many went above and beyond to retest the contaminated products on their own and asked their suppliers to remanufacture the crayons and kits without materials that might result in asbestos exposure.
“We commend these four companies for their good corporate citizenship and commitment to protecting children and families from contaminated products,” said Senators Durbin and Markey. “In order to ensure toxic products never again reach the hands of America’s children, the [Consumer Product Safety Commission] CPSC should ban talc from children’s products and issue a rule on asbestos modeled on the existing rules for lead and phthalates in toys.”
Senators Durbin and Markey actually introduced the Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ) Act on March 10, 2015 to revamp how asbestos is reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Instead of sharing details about materials containing asbestos only once, companies would be required to provide annual updates, especially those manufacturing, processing, importing, or handling asbestos-containing materials.
“Every year, far too many Americans and their families suffer the deadly consequences of asbestos exposure. This information will increase awareness, reduce exposure, and help save lives,” said Durbin.