The one place you would not expect its presence, but there have been numerous reports of asbestos in toys.
In 2007, 2015 and 2010, some crayons and crime scene fingerprint kits made in China and sold in the United States were by chance found to contain asbestos, a harmful mineral that can cause cancer and other deadly lung diseases in children.
Twenty-eight boxes of crayons and 21 crime scene fingerprint kits for kids were tested for asbestos by the Scientific Analytical Institute in Greensboro, N.C., using the most sensitive detection methods available.
Four of the crayon brands and two of the fingerprint kits revealed traces of asbestos—toxic mineral fibers. All of the contaminated products were made in China.
The asbestos contaminating the toys are tremolite, one of the deadliest forms of asbestos.
Thus, one should think twice before buying toys imported from Asia, that have material suspectable of containing asbestos. (Powders, paints, crayons, heat insulation components in model cars, planes etc).
It is possible that some antique and vintage toys could contain asbestos, so caution should be applied when handling them as well. (Stuffing, powder, fake snow, steam machines).
Asbestos in Crayons
The suspected origin of the asbestos in toys that tested positive is talc, a binding agent in crayons and an ingredient in fingerprint powder. Asbestos deposits are frequently found in talc mines and may contaminate talc products. Although the crayons pose a lower risk than the powders, scientists agree that there is no safe level of asbestos exposure.
Crayons detected and confirmed with asbestos
- Amscan Crayons by Amscan
- Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse by Greenbrier International
- Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons by MII, Inc.
- Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce by Greenbrier International
Crayons detected with asbestos in one of two lab tests
- Disney Doc McStuffins Jumbo Crayons
Crayons detected with fibrous talc
- Disney-Pixar Monsters University 3-pack Confetti crayons
- Marvel Ultimate Spider-Man 3-pack Confetti crayons
The risk involved in using crayons containing asbestos is low, as the asbestos is bonded in the crayon material. Allthough crushing, scraping or melting the crayons can release airbourne asbestos fibers.
Asbestos in Crime scene kits
Crime scene kits often contain powder to use for fingerprinting. This powder is often talc, but as reported, this talc powder is contaminated by up to 10% tremolite asbestos.
Crime scene fingerprint kits confirmed with asbestos
- EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit by Toys “R” Us
- Inside Intelligence Secret Spy Kit by Buy-Rite
Crime scene fingerprint kits detected with asbestos in one of two lab tests
- EduScience Crime Lab
- SmartLab Catch the Thief Kit
The risk involved in using fingerprint powders containing asbestos, is medium to high, since the powder is very easily made airbourne and respirable if disturbed.
Asbestos in toys – Chinese Toy cars
“The age” reports that in 2008, it was discovered that ASBESTOS-FILLED toys from China have been sold to Australian children through online auction site eBay and illegally imported into the country.
More than 100 remote-control cars for sale on eBay’s Australian website were identified to have asbestos in their brakes.
The reseller advertised a “super-thick asbestos brake block” among their features.
Some interior components in some cars where also found to contain asbestos.
Risk of using those cars has not been analyzed, but the brakes will release respirable asbestos fibers when the cars are used.