China Unveils The Latest Crayon Color: Asbestos

270px-Crayones_ceraIt is now commonplace to read about Chinese products pulled from foreign markets for impurities or harmful chemicals due to the corruption and lack of consumer protections in that country. The most frightening such cases however involve products for children like the latest story involving the discovery of asbestos in crayons and toy crime lab kits. It appears that the first fun task in using Chinese crime lab kits is to locate the deadly carcinogen in your toy.

Asbestos was found in 4 of 28 boxes of crayons by the EWG Action Fund, a sister organization of the Environmental Working Group. The testing also confirmed asbestos in 2 of 21 toy crime lab kits it evaluated.

The Chinese made the products for Amscan Crayons purchased at Party City as well as Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons and Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce boxes purchased at Dollar Tree. The two toy crime lab kits with contaminants included the black fingerprint powder in the Edu Science Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit, purchased at, and the white fingerprint powder from the Inside Intelligence Secret Spy kit, purchased on

The report said three types of asbestos — tremolite, chrysotile and anthophyllite. The asbestos is believed to have been introduced as a contaminant of talc, used as a binding agent in the crayons and in powder in the toy crime lab kits. Asbestos is often found next to talc deposits in China.

Now here is the really scary fact. While it is hardly news that China has a horrendous food and product safety system, it is also true that there are no laws specifically governing asbestos in children’s products. While the EPA in 1989 issued a ban on most asbestos-containing products. That regulation was overturned in 1991 by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Corrosion Proof Fittings v. the Environmental Protection Agency. The supporters of the asbestos industry argued that, under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the EPA had to use the “least burdensome” means to achieve its goal and asbestos regulation is a far less burdensome option than a ban.

The current rules only require a labeling that the toy or product contains asbestos.

22 thoughts on “China Unveils The Latest Crayon Color: Asbestos”

  1. Karen S,
    I’m constantly monitored by my pulmonary doctor. Every x-Ray I take becomes a nail biting issue of is it or isn’t it pos or neg. Caught a respiratory infection that took a month to get over. If asbestos can become an issue for me just because it was on my dads clothes, I believe it can become a issue with constant exposure.

    Thank you for the web site. I’m going to look at it right now. 🙂

  2. Why bother buying adult coloring books? Draw the patterns yourself, it’s amazing fun and quite relaxing method aptly named zen doodling. I’ve been drawing mandala and zen doodles for quite sometime now. Anyone can do it. A wonderful activity to engage in after debating on RIL!

  3. Kids??? What about all the adults who color???

    Well, as long as the adults don’t eat the crayons or use them as sex toys, they are probably safe.


  4. As an asbestos remover from 87-91 I loved all of the hysteria back then. It put me through college.

  5. Kids??? What about all the adults who color???

    NEW YORK (AP) — Adult coloring books are giving Harper Lee a run for the money on best-seller lists this summer.

    Dover Publications has sold more than 3 million adult coloring books with titles like “Flower Fashion Fantasies.” Quarto Publishing will have 1.3 million in print this year ranging from mandalas to fairies. “Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt,” by one of the genre’s most popular illustrators, Johanna Basford, remains a top seller on Amazon two years after its initial publication.

    In fact, adult coloring books occupied as many of eight of the top 20 slots in a spot-check of Amazon’s best-seller list this week, including “Creative Cats” and “Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Patterns.”

    “We cannot print them fast enough,” said Amy Yodanis, Quarto’s head of marketing. “We are getting orders of 60,000 at one time from some of our biggest retailers.”

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  6. I bet Lisa would disagree about asbestos exposure, even in small amounts in crayons. I would too if I had her and her father’s history. That’s what one gets when they have a totally free market, as in China. Profit is bottom line, industrialists only get punished if several thousand people or dogs die and embarrass them in front of the world, who are the customers of their cheap goods.

  7. Lisa, may I suggest “The Autoimmune Solution” by Dr Amy Myers. It’s been very helpful for my own asthma.

  8. The danger of asbestos lies in long tern inhalation of airborne asbestos. Short term contact with the skin is entirely harmless

    THIS is the voice of reason. But……don’t let facts get in the way of your righteous hysterical indignation..

    Of course, we need to be careful about harmful substances. Reduce the risks associated. Not have these substances around small children and retarded adults who eat crayons 😐 There should be quality control in the products that we purchase. Since it is now too expensive or too restricted to manufacture anything in the US, people are resorting to the cheap and hazardous products produced elsewhere in the world. All these onerous and ridiculous [in some cases] rules and restrictions that are meant to protect people are really causing more harm than good.

    However, there is no reason to get hysterical and run around with our hair on fire either. The mere presence of asbestos in a product is NOT necessarily going to harm you.

  9. Lisa:

    I’m so sorry to hear that. Have you been screened to rule out mesothelioma?

  10. Well, clearly there is a legal loophole we need to close, ASAP.

    China is a house of horrors as far as its products and its working conditions. As the parent of a small child, this story just made me ill.

    Children’s toys and products are one of the few areas where Americans are willing to pay more to avoid anything made in China. There still is a niche for American made in that department.

    What is so sad is that China used to be renowned for its artistry and quality of goods. That time is long past. Communist countries are terrible polluters. Their people might be equal, but they’re equally miserable and have very few individual rights. The only reason they finally admitted that their smog was not fog was because the American Embassy published air quality data online.

    A revolution put the Communist Party in power, and one can take them out. I’m surprised the Chinese have withstood so much without complaint – the poverty, pollution, slave like working conditions, low wages, high cancer rates, and generally toxic environment.

  11. Kids eat crayons or chew on them. My father was exposed to it whilst working in the profession. I was exposed to it by proxy through my dad. I had a tumor the size of a shelled walnut cut out of my lung and they blame it on the asbestos exposure when I was a kid. I have lung issues constantly and I am asthmatic. I believe there’s something to it. My father gets money from the government sent to him every month from a settlement lawsuit of the company that employed him.

  12. The “scary” and “alarming” inclusin of asbestos in crayons is vastly overhyped, and this is another example of the Great American Freakout. “Be afraid, America, be very very afraid.”

    The danger of asbestos lies in long tern inhalation of airborne asbestos. Short term contact with the skin is entirely harmless. The asbestos in the crayons is in the binder of the crayons and is in a form that is essentially impossible to become airborne, and its presence is entirely harmless.

    The asbestos in the fingerprint powder is of slightly more concern, since it could be inhaled, but only slightly since damage from asbestos is caused by long term exposure and one brief exposure to a minute amount is extraordinarily unlikely to do harm. That simply is not how asbestos works.

    1. Bill H – I never ate Crayons, but I did eat glue (paste) which was flour and water. Not sure about the dangers of fingerprint powder with asbestos in it. I guess it would depend on the level.

  13. My half blind guy pal for whom I am guide dog was complaining to his hooker about his underwear scratching him. The product label in the rear of the underpants was stamped on with glue instead of being a sewn on tag. After washing many times the glue started flaking and started scratching. The hooker, who is a good looker, examined the tag and told him that the Hanes brand underwear were made in Vietnam. The man was horrified. He fought in Vietnam. He resents their driving us out. He hates it that Hanes would have their product manufactured there and hates it that he has a scratched up lower back above the buttocks. The hooker who is a good looker resents it because both her parents escaped Vietnam and she hates the Communists. They both solemnly burned the Hanes product in the fireplace.

  14. China’s free market leads to this kind of bad behavior. On the other hand, as with problems at their FDA, the director was hanged to death as a punishment. So, bad behavior and true accountability….
    Worse than here where no one is punished except for carrying small amounts of marijuana?

  15. A litte asbestos makes a man of you. What is the problem, JT?

  16. Just ask any Libertarian or corporate politician/puppet/stooge and they will tell you that all this scrutinizing of our Constitutionally guaranteed stuff is a travesty. If kids aren’t smart enough to avoid asbestos then it’s just part of the great Darwinian adventure; less regulation and down with the EPA.

  17. Asbestos in crayons? Who cares “American” product sellers must remain “competitive”! Who will be harmed? Humans. Who cares? Just don’t hurt the corporate profits.

    We keep importing this…. And then we wonder why are kids are sick.

    But don’t worry folks the TPP will fix all of that. No regulations will be allowed and parents won’t be able to afford crayons anyway.

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