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Toxic Chemical Found in Crayons: 3 Ways to Protect Your Child
  • A toxic chemical found in Playskool crayons is a reminder to be cautious about the school supplies parents buy for their children. Asbestos, known to cause cancer, has been found in green crayons included in Playskool crayon packs, according to a recent report from the United States Public Interest Research Group.

    The amount of asbestos found in the crayons were low, but, “there’s still a danger in accumulation,” Kara Cook-Schultz, a co-writer for the report, told The Atlantic.

    The Atlantic published this statement from Playskool: “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.”

    According to The Atlantic, asbestos is “known to cause mesothelioma and lung cancer, and is suspected to contribute to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and kidney cancer.” Because of the dangers it poses, asbestos has been banned in 55 countries.

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    Dangerous chemicals in school supplies sold in the PH

    Toxic and dangerous substances in school supplies is an ongoing issue. Last January, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found “unacceptable” levels of lead, cadmium, and mercury in brands of pencils, crayons, and fabric paint products targeted for kids. According to GMA News, these were 12 in 1 Pencil, Fairyland 16 Crayons, and Leeho Glitter Fabric Paint Pens.

    The FDA has been constantly reminding the public to be cautious when buying school supplies for children especially because small kids tend to put things in their mouth. “Children's hand-to-mouth behavior as well as their innate curiosity predisposes them to put objects in their mouth resulting to unintended exposure to multiple hazardous substances that may be contained in such objects,” GMA News reported.  


    In 2013, EcoWaste Coalition, a local environmental group, tested cheap crayon boxes sold in Divisoria and found several sets contained alarming levels of mercury content — up to 307 parts per million (ppm), way above the 20 ppm standard. 

    “All products meant for use in learning or playing by children should be entirely safe from mercury and other hazards. It is important to eradicate all contributors to childhood exposure to mercury,” Aileen Lucero, a campaigner for the group, told GMA News

    Children's exposure to lead can cause neurological damage, delayed mental and physical development, and attention and learning deficiencies. Cadmium, on the other hand, can cause pulmonary diseases, kidney diseases, and emphysema. Mercury is a potent neurotoxin.

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    How to help ensure your child’s school supplies are safe

    1. Look for “seals of safety” on the packaging.

    For products made outside of the Philippines, which include brands such as Crayola and Faber-Castell, check for a seal of safety on the packaging. This will be ACMI logo (see what it looks like here) for products from the U.S. and CE marking (see what it looks like here) for European products. 

    Seeing these on the packaging, usually found on the back, ensure that the product has gone through rigorous testing and passes safety standards specifically designed for art materials or children’s toys.  

    2. Only buy from reputable stores.

    Don’t compromise on safety — cheaper is not always better. Purchasing from known brands and reputable retailers, “will ensure the quality and safety of products,” says the FDA in a public advisory. “It will also guarantee that in cases of accidents or adverse health effects, the consumer may opt to contact the retailer or choose to return the product as mandated by Republic Act 7394 otherwise known as “The Consumer Act of the Philippines.’”

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    3. Always check if it’s age-appropriate for your child.

    “In general, school supplies are supposed to be safe for children of all ages,” says the FDA. “Although in some cases, a number of school supplies can pose health hazards such as choking from removable parts like erasers on pencils, and ingestion of glue and paints.”

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