The innocuous looking items of daily use may contain hazardous chemicals. Unless these items are honestly checked and contents known, any of these can be dangerous. Users are usually unaware of the complex risks associated with simple items. Here are examples of crayon and water bottles containing dangerous chemicals.
- The US Public Interest Research Group has just released its annual back-to-school report
- It found trace amounts of asbestos in Dollar Tree’s Playskool crayons
- Asbestos has been linked to mesothelioma, a potentially deadly cancer of the lungs’ lining
- Scientists are unsure if the chemical is in the crayons’ wax or paper wrappers
- Carcinogenic chemicals were also found in one brand of binder and two kinds of dry erase markers
- Lead was once again found in two previously recalled water bottles
Researchers found trace amounts of the toxic mineral in Dollar Tree’s Playskool crayons, and toxins in at least three other products.
Asbestos is a well-known carcinogen that has been blamed for thousands of cases of mesothelioma.
Just three years ago, low levels of the harmful substance were found on not one but several major brands of crayons – including Crayola and Rose Art – but one brand still could pose a risk to young children.
The US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), which just released its report of toys and school supplies, says that finding asbestos in only one crayon brand is progress – but several other back-to-school basics may still be unsafe.
Playschool crayons, were found to contain trace amounts of asbestos, a chemical known to cause mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs
Mass production and plastic help to keep back-to-school expenses to a minimum, but parents still need to be cautious of what products end up in their children’s backpacks.
Without fail, a number of products make it onto the PIRG’s naughty list each year.
Crayons are chief among these.
Trace amounts of asbestos fibers frequently find their way into the coloring tools, which are marketed as being made for small children.
Waxy crayons are not sharp and break easily, so they pose a somewhat lesser risk of stabbing, scratching and choking incidents when in the hands of tots.
But somehow, asbestos commonly finds its way into the products, though the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (USPSC) has yet to work out whether that danger comes from the wax itself or crayons’ paper wrappers.
Tiny, fine asbestos fibers can get lodged in the lining of the lungs, where they corrupt cells and can lead to breathing problems and cause a high-fatality cancer, mesothelioma.
The naturally occurring mineral is fire resistant and impervious to damage from many chemicals.
This discovery led to its inclusion in household insulation and many products beginning in the 1850s. But as early as the 1920s, scientists noticed a trend in early cancer deaths among those who were frequently exposed to the material.
By the 1980s and 1990s it was solidly linked to mesothelioma and banned in many countries, including the UK.
The US stopped short of outlawing asbestos, however, and trace amounts of the tightly controlled chemical still appear periodically in certain products and places, though it is now disallowed from school buildings.
But the new report suggest that while the school structures may be certifiably safe, asbestos could be sneaking in with school supplies.
Crayons are in many ways ideal implements for young children because children under-fives who tend to use their entire arm when they color.
Public Interest Research Group also found phthalates – chemicals linked to asthma, obesity and reproduction issues – in Jot Binders and carcinogens in Expo white board markers
And, worst comes to worst, if a child does decide to turn his artistic instrument into a snack, crayons are fairly non-toxic.
That is, when they don’t contain asbestos.
Dollar Tree spokesperson Randy Guiler told Daily Mail Online that the company was ‘aware of the report,’ and has since’re-verified that each of the listed products successfully passed inspection and testing.’
The product safety group also found worrisome chemicals in three ring binders, dry erase markers and two water bottles that had previously been recalled by the USCPS.
Phthalates were found in Jot binders, also sold at Dollar Tree. This set of chemicals helps to give plastic products their flexibility.
There is still some uncertainty surrounding the health effects of phthalates, but scientists have found possible links between the chemicals and everything from asthma to obesity, low IQ to reproduction issues.
Both the LL Bean GSI Outdoors Children’s Water Bottle and the Reduce Hydro Pro Furry Friends bottles, had previously recalled for their high lead contents. The PIRG’s report warned that they still do, and can still be purchased.
The health effects of phthalates are still not entirely clear, and exposure happens when people drink or eat something out of a plastic container that contains the chemicals, so as long as children are not licking their binders, the risk is probably low.
In addition to these products, Expo’s dry erase markers, as well as those made by The Board Dudes were found to contain several carcinogenic chemicals, including benzene, xylene and toluene.
Two children’s water bottles were found to still be on the market and still contain dangerously lead, even after the USCPS recalled the two products.
Though the notion of toxins in products made specifically to be safe for children is unsettling, this year’s list of dangerous back-to-school products is encouragingly short.