WASHINGTON • A popular brand of crayons contains toxic levels of asbestos, according to a consumer advocacy group that is calling on retailers such as Amazon to pull the items from their shelves.
The US Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG) Education Fund says Playskool crayons tested positive for asbestos, which can lead to lung cancer and mesothelioma if inhaled or ingested.
The group tested crayons in packs of 36 purchased at a Dollar Tree store in Chicago but noted that they are also being sold online at Amazon, eBay and DollarDays.com.
"There is no reason to be exposing kids to a known carcinogen, especially in crayons," said Ms Kara Cook-Schultz, toxics director for US PIRG.
A spokesman for Playskool's parent company, Hasbro, said it is conducting a "thorough investigation" into the claims.
Leap Year Publishing, the Massachusetts-based manufacturer of the crayons, said it is also reviewing its laboratory tests.
The findings come three years after a report from the Environmental Working Group Action Fund found that four brands of crayons manufactured in China contained toxic asbestos fibres. Retailers, such as Toys 'R' Us, stopped selling the crayons as a result.
US PIRG also tested five other crayon brands - Crayola; Target's Up & Up; Cra-Z-Art; Disney Junior Mickey and the Roadster Racers; and Roseart - and found them to be asbestos-free.
US PIRG publishes an annual report on toy safety, which has led to more than 150 product recalls and regulatory actions over the past 30 years.