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Advocacy group warns about crayons sold at Dollar Tree found to contain asbestos

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MILWAUKEE — The U.S. Public Interest Research Group is warning parents and teachers shopping for school supplies about “trace amounts” of asbestos found in crayons sold at Dollar Tree. The Chicago Tribune is reporting they are also available at

In a news release on their website,, they noted that asbestos can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma. It has recently been found in other children’s products such as makeup.

USPIRG officials are encouraging parents and teachers to look for a “non-toxic” label on products — or to check a guide they put together that “advises consumers which products are actually non-toxic and which to avoid.”

USPIRG’s Education Fund tested dozens of school supplies, including markers, crayons, dry erase markers, glue, 3-ring binders, spiral notebooks, lunchboxes and water bottles. We found several supplies containing asbestos, lead, benzene and other dangerous chemicals.

In addition to the crayons, here is what they found, according to the release:

  • Trace amounts of asbestos in Playskool crayons sold at Dollar Tree. Asbestos, which can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, has recently been found in other children’s products, such as makeup.
  • Lead in recently-recalled children’s water bottles (Base Brands children’s Reduce Hydro Pro Furry Friends water bottle, once sold by Costco, and GSI Outdoors children’s water bottle, once sold by L.L. Bean). The Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled both of these items because they contained high levels of lead. Lead can cause severe developmental and behavioral problems.
  • Phthalates in Jot brand blue 3-ring binder. The levels of phthalates in the binder is considered unsafe for children by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. High levels of phthalates can lead to birth defects, hyperactivity, and reproductive problems.
  • Benzene in Board Dudes brand markers. Benzene is a known carcinogen linked to leukemia, and disruptions in sexual reproduction and liver, kidney and immune system function.

In the release, USPIRG’s executive director called on the makers of these unsafe products to “get rid of toxic chemicals to protect American schoolchildren.”

CLICK HERE for USPIRG’s full safe shopping guide.

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