Durbin and Markey Call for Action on Asbestos in Children’s Products

Senators press Consumer Product Safety Commission, retailers after new report finds toxic chemical in crayons, toys

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – A new report released today by the Environmental Working Group details the presence of asbestos in children’s products, including crayon sets and toy fingerprint kits that are available for sale to children and families in the United States. The investigation found that the asbestos was most likely present as a result of contaminated talc used in the products, which were manufactured in and imported from China. In an effort to determine what measures are being taken to protect children and families from these products, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) today sent a letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) calling on the agency to ban talc from children’s products and issue a rule on asbestos modeled on the existing rules for lead or phthalates in toys. The Senators also sent letters to four retailers that had sold the contaminated products, urging them to remove the products from their shelves.


Asbestos was first recognized as a hazardous air pollutant in 1971. Exposure can cause lung cancer, mesothelioma and other health conditions. While asbestos is banned in many countries, it is not banned in the United States and is still imported into the country and can be found in many American products and locations.


“Children’s playtime should be filled with fun, not asbestos,” said Durbin and Markey. “The toys and crayons promoting creativity and curiosity might actually expose children to carcinogens. We need greater access to information about where asbestos is present in products children and families use every day. We have already introduced legislation to increase the amount of information available to the public about where asbestos is found. The Consumer Product Safety Commission also needs to have the resources necessary to intercept these dangerous imported products before they reach the hands of children, and retailers should quickly cease sales and issue voluntary recalls of toxic products. We will be introducing legislation for a user-fee program that will enable the Commission to check and intercept high-risk and dangerous shipments at all ports, expanding nationwide on its successful pilot program.”


The Senators’ letter to the Consumer Product Safety Commission can be found HERE. The Senators’ letter to the retailers can be found HERE.


In March, Durbin and Markey introduced The Reducing Exposure to Asbestos Database (READ) Act, legislation that will help Americans avoid exposure to the potentially deadly substance by increasing the amount of information available to the public about where it is found. At a June 17 Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, Markey asked CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye about the possible presence of asbestos in crayons.