Parents purchasing crayons for their kids, take note: Playskool crayons have been found to contain toxic levels of asbestos, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG). The consumer advocacy group is asking retailers — including Dollar Tree and Amazon — to remove the crayons from their inventory.
“There is no reason to be exposing kids to a known carcinogen, especially in crayons,” said Kara Cook-Schultz, toxics director for U.S. PIRG, told the Washington Post.
The group tested 36-packs of crayons purchased at a Dollar Tree store in Chicago and discovered asbestos, which can be dangerous if inhaled or ingested. The crayons are also being sold online at eBay and DollarDays.com.
The new report comes a few years after a 2015 study from the Environmental Working Group Action Fund that revealed four brands of crayons manufactured in China contained asbestos fibers. Amazon, Toys R Us, Party City and Dollar Tree stopped selling the crayons as a result of the findings.
“The good news is that when we were testing three years ago, all sorts of brands came back with asbestos,” Cook-Schultz told CBS News. “Now it’s just this one.”
During the testing, the group examined five other crayon brands: Crayola, Target’s Up & Up, Cra-Z-Art, Disney Junior Mickey and the Roadster Racers and Rose Art. They were all found to be asbestos-free.
Although there are federal rules regulating the amount of asbestos in schools, drinking water and certain consumer products, there are no federal laws regulating the amount of asbestos allowed in children’s products. Exposure to asbestos can lead to breathing problems, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Hasbro, which owns the Playskool brand, said they will dig into the U.S. PIRG claims, “including working with Leap Year, the licensee of the product,” according to Julie Duffy, a spokeswoman for the company.
“We are aware of a report of trace amounts of asbestos being detected in a small amount of product testing conducted by a private group and are reviewing our own certified lab testing, which to our knowledge, passes all regulatory requirements and had no detectable asbestos,” a spokesman for Leap Year told the Washington Post. “We will issue a formal statement upon the completion of our review.”
The U.S. PIRG released its annual toy safety review on Aug. 7. The group also found:
- Lead in two children’s water bottles that have been recalled (Base Brands children’s Reduce Hydro Pro Furry Friends water bottle, once sold by Costco, and GSI Outdoors children’s water bottle, once sold by L.L. Bean),
- Unsafe levels of phthalates in Jot brand blue 3-ring binders. High phthalate levels have been linked to birth defects and reproductive problems.
- Benzene in Board Dudes brand dry-erase markers. Benzene is a known carcinogen linked to various forms of cancer.
For safe school supply options, see the group’s Safe School Supplies Guide.