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Lung-destroying asbestos still lurks everywhere in America, even in children's crayons

Children''s toys

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(NaturalNews) Recent tests by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund detected the carcinogenic chemical asbestos in children's crayons and fingerprint kits purchased from major national retailers.

"Asbestos in toys poses an unacceptable risk to children, today as it did in 2000 and 2007, the last time tests found the deadly substance in these children's products," said asbestos expert Philip Landrigan of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

But it's not likely that the government will take action to get asbestos out of children's products any time soon. That's because in spite of being a notorious poison and carcinogen, asbestos is still legal in the United States.

Carcinogenic crayons

The EWG Action Fund purchased 28 boxes of crayons and 21 crime scene fingerprint kits from national retail chains and online retailers, then sent them to two separate government-certified labs for testing. Asbestos fibers were detected in four of the boxes of crayons and two of the fingerprint kits.

The contaminated fingerprint kits had been purchased from Amazon.com and ToysRUs.com. The contaminated crayons had been purchased from Party City or Dollar Tree in a suburban area near San Francisco. Many of the crayons were marketed using popular characters such as Mickey Mouse, the Power Rangers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The EWG Action Fund was unable to determine if the owners of those trademarks had any role in producing the products, of if the characters had simply been licensed out to third parties.

All six contaminated products were labeled as having been made in China.

The asbestos probably entered the products along with the talc used to make the fingerprint powder and used as a binder in the crayons. Asbestos often occurs naturally in talc deposits.

"No safe level"

The findings are alarming because even a tiny amount of asbestos can produce an incurable disease called mesothelioma, which attacks the lining of the lungs and other organs. Asbestos can also cause cancer and a disease called asbestosis, which can lead to death from heart failure.

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, "There is no 'safe' level of asbestos exposure for any type of asbestos fiber. Asbestos exposures as short in duration as a few days have caused mesothelioma in humans."

The Collegium Ramazzini, an international doctors' and scientists' group, echoed this sentiment in 2010, saying, "The scientific community is in overwhelming agreement that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Moreover, there is no evidence of a threshold level below which there is no risk of mesothelioma."

The asbestos in the fingerprint kits was found in the fingerprint powder, which could easily be inhaled. And even the crayons could release microscopic asbestos fibers as they are ground down during use.

Government taking no action

Shockingly, this is not the first time that asbestos has been found in crayons. In 2000, the Seattle Post Intelligencer ran tests that detected asbestos in three popular crayon brands. This spurred the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) to conduct its own tests, confirming the results. The commission stated that as a precaution, crayons should not contain these [asbestos] fibers," and said that it would "monitor children's crayons to ensure they do not present a hazard." Since then, however, the CSPC has taken no action to ban or even regulate asbestos in children's products, even after the toxic substance was found contaminating children's fingerprint kits in 2007.

Now with the latest findings, it is becoming clear that asbestos in certain children's products is a chronic problem.

"Clearly some toy manufacturers haven't done enough to protect children and others from asbestos in consumer products," Landrigan said. "Therefore, it's high time the federal government bans asbestos in consumer products."



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