Dangerous Chemicals Found in Children’s School Supplies

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Asbestos, benzene, and other dangerous chemicals found in school supplies of children, according to a report published on August 9, 2018.

Toxic substances in a number of school supplies, including asbestos in a Playskool crayon and benzene, in a dry-erase marker was found by a public interest group called the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. They carried out laboratory test of 27 back-to-school products, where four products tested positive for dangerous chemicals.

Crayons, markers, binders, water bottles, lunchboxes, notebooks, rulers, and glue was tested by the group. These products were purchased nationwide at a variety of businesses, including box stores, dollar stores, pharmacies, arts and crafts stores, and online. For over three decades, they have been surveying toys. They recommended that the companies that make or offer these products should stop selling them and start notifying consumers about the harmful chemicals present in the product.

Among the various crayons tested, a green Playskool crayon showed presence of trace amounts of tremolite, a form of asbestos. According to the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, tremolite can lead to asbestos-related cancer and asbestos diseases. The crayon was part of a set of 36 manufactured by Leap Year Publishing and was purchased at a Dollar Tree store. In an email, John Sorenson, a spokesman for Leap Year Publishing, said that all of its products, including the green crayon mentioned in the report, are thoroughly tested by independent labs to meet or exceed federal standards. John Sorenson said, “We are currently re-verifying that they are safe and free of any asbestos, as well as requesting a review of PIRG’s testing methods.”

Four markers were sent to the laboratory for testing and two dry-erase ones tested positive for a group of compounds often found in petroleum products and known as BTEX: benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. The presence of benzene, which is a carcinogen, was found in a package of six magnetic markers which were purchased on Amazon and produced by The Board Dudes, a brand owned by Mattel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, normal functioning of cells could be disrupted by benzene.

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