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North Carolina parents beware: asbestos found in kids' product

Parents will often go to great lengths to keep their kids safe. They put helmets and knee pads on kids who go skateboarding, check for worrisome ingredients in their food and install apps on a teen driver's phone to prevent texting and driving.

Unfortunately, many moms and dads may unknowingly be giving their kids a potentially harmful product to play with and it may be one of the most common products young children use: crayons.

According to recent reports, asbestos has been found in the talc used to make crayons manufactured outside of the U.S. While the amount found in numerous brands of crayons was relatively small, it is still quite troubling to learn that a toxic fiber is in the hands of young kids.

Intact, asbestos poses a minimal threat to a person's safety. However, if it is damaged or disrupted -- for example, through sharpening, chewing on or wearing down of crayons -- fibers can be released in the air and ingested.

There is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos which means that even minimal exposure can be concerning. This is particularly true when exposure is at a young age.

When young people are exposed to asbestos, they have more time to develop illnesses like mesothelioma that can take 50 years to develop. A person exposed at age 40 or 50 may never experience symptoms but a person exposed to asbestos at age 5 or 6 certainly runs the risk of developing and being diagnosed with a serious condition by the time they are 40 or 50. 

Unfortunately, asbestos use in products is not completely banned in the U.S. and many materials that are imported into this country contain asbestos. In the case of the crayons, the asbestos has been found in products made in China.

Reports indicate that many of the products tested had no warning they contained potentially hazardous materials, which can be particularly upsetting for parents who rely on these warnings to keep their kids safe. Hopefully, these products will be changed or taken out of the U.S. marketplace but until that happens, parents should be aware of these potentially dangerous products.

Source: Philly.com, "What's asbestos doing in kids' crayons?" Sandy Bauers, July 19, 2015

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