Popular school supply found to contain asbestos, group says

Playskool crayons, sold at Dollar Tree, tested for traces of asbestos

By Keith Dunlap - Graham Media Group
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Courtesy of Getty Images

Now is a popular time for parents to go back-to-school shopping, considering the start of classes is just around the corner, but people should beware of one item in particular.

According to testing conducted by the U.S. Public Internet Research Group, they said they found Playskool crayons from Dollar Tree that contained asbestos.

The research group found tremolite fibers, which is a type of asbestos, in the crayons. 

But that wasn’t all. 

The research group also found dangerous chemicals in other products it tested, according to its website, including:

  • Blue three-ring binders made by Jot that were found at Dollar Tree, that tested positive for phthalates, a substance linked with asthma, obesity and lower IQ scores.
  • Dry erase markers made by Expo and The Board Dudes, which tested positive for carcinogenic BTEX chemicals, such as benzene, xylene and toluene. 
  • Two types of children's water bottles, that were previously recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission for containing lead -- the Reduce Hydro Pro Furry Friends water bottle, previously sold at Costco and Amazon, and the GSI Outdoors Children's Water Bottles, previously sold at L.L. Bean before being recalled in 2016.

In an email, Hasbro SVP of Global Communications Julie Duffy released the following statement: "Product and children’s safety are top priorities for Hasbro. We are conducting a thorough investigation into these claims, including working with Leap Year, the licensee of the product."  

John Sorenson, spokesman for Leap Year Publishing, the manufacturer of the crayons, also released a statement in an email saying: "There is nothing more important to Leap Year Publishing than the safety of our products in the hands of children.  All of our products, including the Playskool-branded green crayon mentioned by PIRG, are thoroughly tested by independent labs to meet or exceed all CPSC and Federal Standards for Safety.  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."

Ian Scott, a spokesperson for GSI, said a recall was instituted for Outdoors Children's water bottles in 2016 and the Consumer Product Safety Commission closed its file on the recall July 13, saying GSI had taken the necessary steps and had done all it could do recalling the water bottles. 

"GSI Outdoors found the problem and we initiated the recall," Scott said. "GSI very concerned about consumer health and environmental issues."

Dollar Tree stores released a statement, telling ABC News: "The safety of our customers and associates is our top priority. Our company utilizes a very stringent and independent testing program to ensure our supplier products meet or exceed all safety and legal standards. We are aware of the report and have since re-verified that each of the listed products successfully passed inspection and testing."

Emails that haven't been returned yet were also sent to Expo, The Board Dudes and Base Brands (maker of Reduce Hydro water bottles) seeking responses on the study released by the U.S. PIRG.

The good news is that other products tested by the research group were found to be devoid of toxic chemicals. Those products were glue, lunch boxes, spiral notebooks, rulers, and multiple other types of crayons and pens. 

Graham Media Group 2018