It’s back to school time for kids all over the country but even if your kids aren’t quite ready to go back, it’s still time to buy school supplies. However, parents of elementary school kids take note: Playskool crayons, the brand sold at Dollar Tree, have been found to have trace elements of asbestos. (A spokesman for Dollar Tree said all of its children’s products are independently tested and meet all legal and safety standards. Until they don’t!)
Kara Cook-Schultz, toxics director at U.S. Public Interest Research Group who conducts annual tests of toys and school supplies said that three years ago many more brands came back with asbestos. Now it’s just Playskool.
Playskool crayons may have asbestos. They are sold at Dollar Tree locations and on Amazon.
“Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission acknowledged that it was unclear whether the asbestos trapped in crayon wax posed a danger, it noted that kids sometimes eat crayons and recommended that parents avoid asbestos-containing brands as a precaution. Since then, most brands have revamped their crayon manufacturing process to eliminate even trace elements of asbestos fibers.”1
In tests run this year, U.S. PIRG found:
- Tremolite fibers — a type of asbestos, in Playskool crayons
- Phthalates, a substance linked to asthma, obesity and lower-IQ scores in blue three-ring binders made by Jot and sold at Dollar Tree
- Carcinogenic BTEX chemicals, such as benzene, xylene, and toluene in dry erase markers made by Expo and The Board Dudes
But it’s not just crayons, two products, Reduce Hydro Pro Furry Friends water bottle, sold at Costco and Amazon, and GSI Outdoors Children’s Water Bottles, sold at L.L. Bean were previously recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission for containing lead (and the Hydro Pro Furry Friends product is still available from Costco online.
“Julie Duffy, a spokeswoman for Hasbro, which owns the Playskool brand, said the company would investigate the US PIRG claims thoroughly, “including working with Leap Year, the licensee of the product.”
‘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,’ added a spokesman for LeapYear. ‘We will issue a formal statement upon the completion of our review. Consumer safety is most important to Leap Year and we take these matters very seriously.'”2
U.S. PIRG also tested glue, lunch boxes, spiral notebooks, and rulers, other types of crayons, and pens and didn’t find any issues.
Shop on, just shop carefully.