Thursday, November 29, 2007

Asbestos turns up in toys, children's clay and other products

Asbestos turns up in toys, children's clay and other products

According to an article on asbestos, the substance that can cause malignant mesothelioma was found in toys and children’s clay.

Asbestos has been found in a variety of consumer products, including one of this season's biggest-selling Christmas toys, according to the nation's largest asbestos victims’ organizations.
The CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit, two brands of children's play clay, powdered cleanser, roof sealers, duct tapes, window glazing, spackling paste and small appliances were among the products in which asbestos was found by at least two of three labs hired by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

The group, which was created in 2004 by asbestos victims and their families, spent more than $165,000 to have government-certified laboratories examine hundreds of consumer products over 18 months to determine whether asbestos was present.

The product that is of greatest concerns to some public health experts is the fingerprint kit, which is a huge seller, according to sales personnel interviewed by the Seattle P-I.

The kit, made in China, is one of several items licensed by CBS after its popular "CSI" science-crime shows. This model has an extensive array of plastic tools, inks and three types of very fine powders -- white, black and glow-in-the-dark. The analysis done for the victim's organization found high levels of two types of asbestos in the white and the glow powder.

Physicians are especially concerned because of the significant likelihood of children breathing in asbestos fibers as they hunt for fingerprints and use a soft-bristled brush to move the powder around.

CBS Consumer Products responded quickly when told of the reported contamination.
"We've asked our licensee to immediately conduct an independent test in the U.S. for asbestos. If the toy is determined to be unsafe, then we will insist that the licensee remove it from the market," a statement from a CBS spokesman said.

The manufacturer and distributor -- Planet Toys in New York City -- said in an e-mail that it frequently inspects the plants in China that make the CSI toys. "We respect anyone's right to test our products and should their or our future tests reveal anything unacceptable, we'll of course take swift action to remove contaminated products from the market."

Another product the labs said contained asbestos was Art Skills' Clay Bucket, where asbestos was found in six colors of clay.

The Pennsylvania-based family business uses clay from Thailand and, Jennifer Hogan said, produces "a safe and hazard-free product" which has "passed all toxicology tests required to conform to applicable United States safety standards."

Hogan says her firm appreciates the seriousness of the organization's concerns "and will pursue vigorously any evidence of hazardous substances in our products."

The laboratories reported asbestos in Scotch High Performance Duct Tape and its All Weather Duct Tape, both of which are manufactured in Canada, according to 3M.

"3M has a policy against using asbestos in our products," said Jackie Berry, a corporate spokeswoman, "and we don't use asbestos in our duct tape."

The labs also said asbestos was found in numerous tests of DAP Crack Shot Spackling Paste and DAP's 33 Window Glazing.

David Fuller, vice president of marketing for DAP, said "neither product contains asbestos. As a responsible company, DAP has been, and will continue to be, in regular contact with our suppliers and will routinely review information and regulations relevant to ensuring the safety and efficacy of our products."

Paul Zygielbaum, a survivor of mesothelioma, and his wife, Michelle, proposed tests of products readily available on U.S. store shelves. "Our reasoning was that, while the continuing legality of asbestos doesn't seem to cause public outrage, the actual, unsuspected presence of asbestos in everyday products might do so," said Zygielbaum, who managed the testing.

After reporting its findings at a news conference in Washington on Wednesday morning, the organization says it will submit its testing information to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the EPA.

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