As backpacks fill up with school supplies, nearly every kid will toss in a box of crayons. It should be the least of parents worries, but what if we told you some brands contain asbestos? It’s a mineral historically used for insulating that’s known to cause cancer and other lung problems.
“The fibers are so small that our system cannot get them out before they get into the lungs,” said Dick Genter, iSi Environmental Services.
Genter helped us test boxes of crayons from around Wichita. We picked up a couple of packs from Dollar Tree: Disney Princess 3-pack and Power Rangers jumbo crayons. Both were made in China.
Next, we went to Walgreens and got a few more. Walgreens’ brand Penway was made in China. The other, well-known Crayola, was made in the United States.
We also bought one box at Walmart. Cra-Z-Art is Walmart’s brand and it, too, is made in China. The last box came from Target. It’s store-brand, Up & Up, was made in the U.S.A.
Once we felt like we had a good sample, we left the rest of the process to Genter. He sent the crayons to a Quantem laboratories in Oklahoma City.
After a few weeks, we learned five of the six boxes were asbestos-free. One was not. “We had a tiny amount detected in sample number two,” said Genter.
He says the test found a trace of asbestos in a red crayon from the Cra-Z-Art brand from Walmart. Again, it was made in China where the asbestos regulations are different from the U.S.
“Some of the Chinese manufactured materials came back with no asbestos detected,” said Genter. “Which shows some progress in the world communities.”
Genter says parents shouldn’t worry, because even those crayons with a trace of asbestos are harmless. He says you would have to break the crayons, grind them up to a powder substance, then inhale the powder. The likelihood of that happening is slim to none.
If you have the Walmart brand at home, you can make your own decision whether to hang onto it or throw it out.
We’ve reached out to Walmart for a comment but haven’t been able to get in touch with a spokesperson yet.
“I was actually very surprised,” said Genter. “The (crayon) industry has come a long way, in my opinion.”
SOURCE: Eyewitness News 12