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Do your child's crayons contain asbestos?

As a parent, you would never expect that school supplies, used as directed, could be hazardous to your child’s health. Unfortunately, too many toys and school supplies contain dangerous substances, such as asbestos. What’s even more unsettling is that some hazardous components are legal, up to a certain level, in children’s products.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has been testing the safety of toys and school supplies for the past several years. The organization purchases products that go to an independent laboratory for testing. After assessing all components and tabulating the results, they release an annual shopping guide with the goal of arming parents and teachers with as much information as possible.

This year’s dangerous school supplies include:

  • Crayons (Playskool): The green crayon tested positive for a type of asbestos called tremolite. The crayons come in boxes of 36 and can be purchased at Dollar Tree and on Amazon.
  • Blue three-ring binders (Jot): The blue binder sold at Dollar Tree contained phthalates, which may lead to asthma, obesity and lower-IQ scores.
  • Dry erase markers (The Board Dudes and Amazon): Both contained benzene, which may cause cancer and a slew of additional health problems.
  • Water bottles (Hydro Pro Furry Friends and GSI Outdoors): CBS News reports that despite being recalled for containing lead, one of their reporters was still able to order the Hydro Pro Furry Friends product online after the recall.

Dollar Tree, home to two of the four products mentioned above, continues to defend its products but won't be pulling them from the shelves.

Why are dangerous products still available?

How are these dangerous materials making their way into the hands of children? The answer is, its legal for crayons and other products to contain asbestos or dangerous chemicals to some degree.

While it’s legal and they aren’t required to do so, most crayon makers have eliminated asbestos in their products, citing that alternatives to talc exist. Talc, a binding agent commonly used in crayons, is thought to be naturally contaminated by asbestos.

While many products are free of hazardous materials, some are not. Unfortunately, people may become gravely ill due to exposure to these dangerous products. Learn what you can do to keep you and your children safe.

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