Group finds asbestos in children's crayons, toy crime lab kits

The EWG Action Fund reports it found traces of asbestos in some crayons and toy crime lab kits.

Story highlights

  • The EWG Action Fund tested crayons and toy crime lab kits for asbestos
  • Four of 28 crayon boxes and two of 21 crime lab kits tested positive
  • Some stores that sold the products say they are investigating the report's findings

(CNN)The EWG Action Fund is calling for a ban on asbestos in consumer products after it found traces of the carcinogen in children's crayons and toy crime lab kits.

Four of 28 boxes of crayons tested positive for asbestos, according to the newly released report from the advocacy group. A private lab hired by the EWG Action Fund, a sister organization of the Environmental Working Group, also detected and confirmed asbestos in two of 21 toy crime lab kits it evaluated.
    Breathing in microscopic asbestos fibers has been linked to serious health problems, including lung disease, lung cancer and mesothelioma. The Environmental Protection Agency says exposure to asbestos only occurs when asbestos-containing material is disturbed, and when the particles become airborne.
    "Parents do need to be concerned about particular brands of products where asbestos was identified," said Dr. Jerry Paulson, the former chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Council on Environmental Health.
    Package labels indicated that the crayons and toys containing asbestos were made in China and imported to the United States, according to the report. Affected crayon boxes included Amscan Crayons purchased at Party City as well as Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons and Saban's Power Rangers Super Megaforce boxes purchased at Dollar Tree.
    The two toy crime lab kits with contaminants included the black fingerprint powder in the Edu Science Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit, purchased at ToysRUs.com, and the white fingerprint powder from the Inside Intelligence Secret Spy kit, purchased on Amazon.com.
    However, the EWG Action Fund report does not list the amount of asbestos found in the products.
    Paulson, who is not affiliated with the report, said that powder from the crime lab kits was of particular concern.
    "Powders make this material much more available to the lung, where asbestos does its damage," Paulson said.

    'Child safety is of the utmost importance'

    CNN contacted importers, distributors and retailers named in the report for comment. Representatives from Amazon, MII Inc. and Buy-Rite could not be reached. The report specifies that "product names may be licensed and do not necessarily reflect the name of the manufacturer."
    The vice president of investor relations for Dollar Tree, which owns Greenbrier International Inc., an importer and distributor named in the report, released a statement: "The safety of our customers is paramount and we work constantly to ensure our suppliers' products are compliant and safe. To that end, we have a very robust and stringent test program, which includes working with independent CPSC-accredited testing companies to ensure our suppliers' products meet all safety and legal standards."
    A spokesperson for Party City, which is owned by Amscan, said in a statement: "Amscan is dedicated to ensuring that all of its products meet or exceed federal, state and municipal requirements. To this end, Amscan conducts compliance testing of its suppliers' products by using nationally recognized product testing organizations. Any product that fails to meet governmental or Amscan's standards will not be distributed or sold. We take these types of matters very seriously and are investigating further."
    Toys R Us spokeswoman Kathleen Waugh said in a statement: "The safety of our customers is, and always has been, our highest priority. We take this responsibility very seriously. We require that every product we carry meets or exceeds all applicable state and federal laws, industry standards, codes and requirements.