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Back To Vidyya Asbestos In Crayons?

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Says Popular Children's Toy Contains Asbestos. Crayola Says Report Is False.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a report last week claiming to have found levels of asbestos in crayons.

The Post-Intelligencer commissioned independent testing of a total of 40 crayons from three different manufacturers: Crayola, Prang, and Rose Art. According to the Intelligencer, of those tested, 32 showed more than trace of asbestos.

The newspaper report seemed to take both the crayon manufacturers and government agencies by surprise. However, both groups were quick to point out that crayons pose little or no health risk.

If you're a health professional concerned about what to tell parents regarding the asbestos/crayon scare, you'll find the following information from the Crayola ® Web site helpful.

From The EPA & Crayola ®

Newly completed testing by a U.S. Government certified independent laboratory confirms that Crayola crayons are asbestos free and safe for children. The new results have been turned over to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

RJ Lee Group, a respected EPA approved contract laboratory and materials testing facility located near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, conducted separate tests involving finished Crayola crayons, as well as the talc raw material used as a strengthening agent. The tests covered both methodologies reported by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a newspaper that claimed testing it commissioned showed evidence of asbestos in crayons. The tests also covered a third method the newspaper apparently did not use. The new tests conducted by RJ Lee Group directly contradict the newspaper’s conclusion and indicate that both the talc and the finished crayons are asbestos free and do not pose any known health risk to consumers.

Dr. Richard Lee, an EPA consultant and pioneer in the development of methods for identification and quantification of asbestos, confirms that his laboratory’s tests used polarized light microscopy (PLM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques – the same procedures reported by the Seattle newspaper – as well as scanning electron microscopy (SEM). The crayons tested included the same colors reported in the newspaper story.

"We examined the optical properties of the minerals, as well as the crystal structure of the talc and finished crayons, by PLM, TEM and SEM," Lee said. "The combination of those techniques, which definitively determine whether or not asbestos is present, confirmed that the talc used in Crayola crayons and the finished products do not contain asbestos and are safe for consumers."

"These findings reaffirm the commitment to safety we’ve upheld for nearly 100 years," said Al Hunyadi, Binney & Smith Chief Operating Officer. "Consumers who use Crayola products at home and in school can continue to feel good about using them. Any consumers who were confused by the reports can rest assured that Crayola products are asbestos free, safe and non-toxic and continue to meet or exceed all government and industry safety standards."

RJ Lee Group has details of the methodology and technical findings of its lab testing available on request. The reporter who wrote the Seattle newspaper story has repeatedly declined requests by the maker of Crayola crayons to review similar details of the lab work done for the paper. In fact, the newspaper has so far named only one of two laboratories it says conducted crayon testing.

RJ Lee Group’s Dr. Richard Lee says, "It has been common in the past for labs to misidentify talc fibers and cleavage minerals as asbestos. That may be what happened in the case of the Seattle report; however, without their report and data, we cannot determine if their findings are a result of misidentification."

"Parents and teachers have trusted the Crayola brand to provide safe and quality art materials for children for almost a century," Hunyadi said. "The safety of our products and consumer trust is something we take very seriously, and we will continue to maintain that trust everyday."

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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