June 13, 2000
CPSC Releases Asbestos Test Results on Crayons
Low risk cited but monitoring
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission (CPSC) today released results of tests on
crayons after concerns were raised about asbestos in some popular brands.
CPSC found a trace amount of asbestos in two Crayola crayons made by Binney and Smith and
one Prang crayon made by Dixon Ticonderoga. However, the amount of asbestos is so small it
is scientifically insignificant.
In Crayola crayons and Prang crayons, CPSC also found larger amounts of another fiber,
called "transitional" fiber, which is similar in appearance to asbestos fiber.
While there are potential concerns about these fibers if children are exposed to them,
CPSC tests concluded that the risk a child would be exposed to the fibers either through
inhalation or ingestion is extremely low and there is no scientific basis for a recall.
The risk of exposure to the fibers from using crayons is low. In a simulation of a child
vigorously coloring with a crayon for half an hour, no fibers were found in the air. The
risk of exposure by eating crayons is also low because the fibers are imbedded in wax and
pass through a child's body. However, CPSC concluded that these fibers should not be in
children's crayons in the long term.
As a precaution, because crayons are intended for use by children, CPSC asked industry to
reformulate crayons using substitute ingredients. Binney and Smith and Dixon Ticonderoga
quickly volunteered to reformulate within a year to eliminate the fibers. Rose Art, which
has only a small percentage of crayons made with talc, also agreed to reformulate.
"Where children are concerned, you have to be extra cautious, "said CPSC
Chairman Ann Brown. "The risk is low but the concerns with these fibers should not be
ignored. I'm pleased that all the major manufacturers, including Crayola, Prang and Rose
Art went the extra mile to allay concerns about these fibers."
CPSC tests concluded that there is no cause for concern. Parents and teachers can continue
to use the crayons they have and purchase crayons from store shelves.
Transitional fibers can be found in talc, which is used as a binding agent in some
crayons. Talc is a mineral that can be found with many other types of minerals in some
The CPSC tests were conducted by a government lab and a private lab to see whether
consistent results would be obtained. Both labs had similar results. The sophisticated
testing included analysis of the fibers through light refraction and visual examination
through an electron microscope.
CPSC will continue to monitor children's crayons to make sure they are safe.
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