Crayons test positive for asbestos this back-to-school season - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Crayons test positive for asbestos this back-to-school season

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WSIL -- A warning for parents who may be buying school supplies: avoid Playskool crayons. That's the message from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which claims the crayons have trace elements of asbestos.

The advocacy group, said in its annual report on the safety of school supplies that Playskool brand crayons purchased at a Chicago Dollar Tree store tested positive for trace amounts of potentially dangerous asbestos chemicals.

The group tested six kinds of crayons from different brands, purchased at stores in several states and online. According to their report, only the green Playskool crayons tested showed trace amounts of tremolite, a type of asbestos fiber.

"It’s completely unnecessary for crayons to contain asbestos," Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG education fund toxics director, told ABC News. "We know how to produce crayons without asbestos and most crayons are free of asbestos."

Dollar Tree stores acknowledged the report, telling ABC News in a statement, "The safety of our customers and associates is our top priority. Our company utilizes a very stringent and independent testing program to ensure our supplier products meet or exceed all safety and legal standards. We are aware of the report and have since re-verified that each of the listed products successfully passed inspection and testing."

Hasbro, the parent company of Playskool, said it is looking into the reports.

"Product and children’s safety are top priorities for Hasbro," Julie Duffy, senior vice president of global communications for Hasbro, said in a statement to ABC News. "We are conducting a thorough investigation into these claims, including working with Leap Year, the licensee of the product."

According to the report, the crayons U.S. PIRG purchased at the Chicago Dollar Tree were manufactured in China and did not carry an AP seal, meaning an “approved product” certified as non-toxic by The Art and Creative Materials Institute, or ACMI, a manufacturer’s association that promotes safety standards in art materials.

A spokesman for Dollar Tree said all of its children's products are independently tested and meet all legal and safety standards.

"The good news is that when we were testing three years ago, all sorts of brands came back with asbestos," said Kara Cook-Schultz, toxics director at U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which conducts annual tests of toys and school supplies. "Now it's just this one."

In 2015, tests found trace amounts of asbestos fibers in many major brands, including Rose Art and Crayola. Asbestos fibers can cause breathing difficulties and cancer if inhaled. Although the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) 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.

ABC News contributed to this report.

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