Your Kids' Favorite Crayons Could be Full of Dangerous Toxin

kid coloring

Asbestos is definitely one of those things parents want to keep away from their kids -- but as long as your child isn't hanging out in some condemned building, he's safe, right? Well, not according to a new report by the nonprofit watchdog the Environmental Working Group, which has found asbestos in crayons. That's right -- crayons.


To conduct this study, the EWG purchased 28 boxes of crayons at various national retail chains. Four brands were found to contain asbestos fibers: Amscan, Disney Doc McStuffins Jumbo Crayons, Disney-Pixar Monsters University Confetti Crayons, and Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons.

All the asbestos-laden crayons were made in China. And although some were named after popular Disney franchises, it's unclear whether those brands were official license holders or just random pirated knock-offs (in other words, Disney may not be to blame here). 

The reason asbestos is so dangerous is these tiny fibers, if inhaled, can lead to cancer and other fatal lung diseases down the road. In crayons, these particles can be released into the air as children grind crayons down to create their drawings.

Another potential asbestos hazard named in this EWG report? Kid crime scene kits, which contain fingerprint detection powder that could contain trace amounts of asbestos. Even more alarming, this powder could be easily inhaled as kids blow the powder off the fingerprints.

More from The Stir: Safety Report: 10 Most Dangerous Toys for Kids

Health authorities have actually been aware of this problem since 2000, when the Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted tests on crayons and concluded that the risk of exposure was "extremely low," yet "as a precaution, crayons should not contain these [asbestos] fibers." Yet clearly some crayons still do.

What's more, product labels don't disclose the presence of asbestos ... so what's a concerned parent to do?

While avoiding crayons sounds cruel, what you can do is stick with crayon companies that have vowed to purge asbestos from their products. Although crayons sold by Crayola, Prang, and Rose Art were found to have asbestos in 2000, they have since complied to safety standards, and the EWG also tested eight new samples of Crayola crayons, all of which were found to be asbestos-free. Avoid cheap restaurant crayons (or throw them out after you leave the restaurant, rather than saving them). And, of course, keep an eye on your coloring kids -- it's not unheard of for kids to eat crayons!

You can also support a bill known as the READ Act -- for Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database -- now under consideration in Congress. If passed into law, it would make sure that Americans have accessible and up-to-date info about asbestos-containing products.

Are there any substances you're worried may be in your kids' toys?


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