We often read news stories about asbestos being found in factories, warehouses, office buildings, and even schools – but this week in the United States, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund and the Scientific Analytical Institute discovered traces of asbestos in a number of children’s toys – a rare, but worrying, occurrence in the asbestos industry.

The first set of tests, carried out by the EWG Action Fund, an American charity that aims to promote healthier living and wellbeing, were conducted on 28 sets of kids’ crayons. The crayons, which were designed as tie-in merchandise for a number of different films and TV shows including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mickey Mouse, were produced in China and imported into the United States. Overall, asbestos was found in four of the 28 boxes analysed during the tests. The Scientific Analytical Institute, based in Greensboro, North Carolina, carried out similar tests on a children’s crime scene play set. Out of the 21 kits tested by the Institute, two were found to contain traces of asbestos.

Reassuringly, this is the first time since 2007 that children’s toys have been found to contain asbestos, but experts are still shocked at the results of these tests. The worry is that the asbestos fibres could be gradually released over time as the toys are played with, and could be inhaled by the children and their parents. This is especially worrying in relation to the crayons, as they are designed to wear down and could be ingested or inhaled by the user. Statistics published by Crayola show that, by the time they reach 10 years old, the average American child will have worn down nearly 700 crayons.

As part of the tests carried out, the EWG Action Fund and the Scientific Analytical Institute analysed a number of different toys and children’s products, but only the two discussed here were found to contain any traces of asbestos whatsoever. You can read the report published after the completion of the study here: www.asbestosnation.org/facts/tests-find-asbestos-in-kids-crayons-crime-scene-kits/#fullreport

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