Asbestos in Children’s Toys
Decades ago, when one thought of asbestos, it was generally associated with its many uses and versatility. Asbestos was heavily used throughout the 20th century in America and around the world because of its unique fire resistant properties and its abundance that made it so affordable. Insulation, pipe covering, roof and floor tiles are just a few of the many common household items that asbestos was used for, but a startling discovery only a couple decades ago placed people, especially parents with young children, on high alert.
Researchers discovered as recently as 2015 that deadly asbestos fibers were found in children’s toys: particularly crayons, crime scene kits, and modeling clay. The first reports of these findings date back to 2000 when the Seattle Post Intelligencer called for testing on three popular brands of crayons. In 2007, trace amounts of asbestos were then found in crime scene kits – a toy increasing in popularity as the television show CSI: Crime Scene Investigation became more popular. As reported by the Environmental Working Group Action Fund (EWG), these products were made in China and imported to the United States. A total of 28 boxes of crayons and 21 crime scene kits for children were analyzed by the Scientific Analytical Institute in Greensboro, North Carolina. Studies found that 4 out of the 28 crayon boxes contained asbestos as well as 2 of the 21 crime scene kits.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring group of minerals in the environment that when airborne, can cause serious life-threatening health problems such as lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma. The long latency period makes the substance hard to detect early as symptoms generally don’t show until decades later. Asbestos-related illnesses typically affect older, retired, senior citizens. With this alarming discovery of asbestos in children’s toys, there is a possibility that young adults could be affected as early as their 20s.
Crime lab kits have dusting powder used to “dust for finger prints.” One of the ingredients in this powder is talc. Talc generally does not contain asbestos, but trace amounts of asbestos fibers have been found in the past, making talc-based products such as baby powder come under intense scrutiny. The finger print dust is then brushed around with a brush or some other device, causing the powder to become airborne and inhaled. Researchers at the independent laboratory at the Scientific Analytical Institute of Greensboro, N.C. found that the finger print kits contain 1% asbestos which is considered to be a relatively high concentration.
Talc is used as a binding agent in crayons. As any parent will testify, children can be rough with crayons. The average child will run down close to 730 crayons by the time her or she is just 10 years old. Other risk factors include ingestion. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed that the risk of asbestos fibers entering a child’s body through ingestion is very low because crayon wax will not melt due to the fact that the body’s internal temperature is not high enough to do so.
The following is EWG’s list of products for children that were found to contain asbestos fibers:
Crime Scene Kits
- Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit (Buy-Rite)
- EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit (Toys “R” Us)
- Saban Power Rangers Super Megaforce Crayons (Greenbrier International)
- Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Crayons (Greenbrier International)
- Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Crayons (MII Inc.)
- Amscan Crayons (Amscan)
Asbestos related illnesses, such as mesothelioma are relatively rare; affecting about 3,000 people each year in the United States. However, mesothelioma is often fatal. Victims often do not respond to treatment because the cancer is advanced by the time it is diagnosed, and claims its victims quickly and painfully. The widespread use of asbestos has resulted in asbestos products littering our entire country. At Goldberg, Persky & White, P.C., we understand that big companies put the health of their employees and their families second so they could profit. For more than 30 years the attorneys at GPW have been helping workers, and their families receive compensation for what is owed to them. If you’ve been injured by asbestos, or are unsure if you have had asbestos exposure, we may be able to help. Don’t let time limit your rights. Contacts us today at 1-800-Complex or fill out our contact form to get in touch with an experienced attorney.
Bill Walker and Sonya Lunder, “Tests Find Asbestos in Kids’ Crayons, Crime Scene Kits,” Environmental Working Group (2016). [Link]
Megan Boyle, “Is Asbestos in Your Children’s Toys?” Environmental Working Group Enviroblog (July 9, 2015). [Link]
Justin Worland, “Investigation Finds Asbestos in Crayons and Kids’ Toys,” Time Magazine (July 8, 2015) [Link]