Tests Finds Dollar Store School Supplies Test Positive for Asbestos

school supplies

I don’t know about you, but I am currently in the throes of back-to-school shopping for my three kids, who start back next week (too soon, but that’s an article for another day.) I was able to order most of their supplies online, but sadly, one elusive five-subject wide-ruled notebook remains out of my grasp. I’ve got six days to find it! Like many parents, I’m always looking for the best bargain, and I do love it when I can find great products on the cheap; however a new report from the U.S. PIRG that claims to have found traces of the cancer-causing asbestos in a brand of Playskool crayons sold at Dollar Tree has me re-considering my bargain stance.

The U.S. PIRG’s Education Fund tested many school supplies products and found asbestos in these crayons.

Before I dive into their test results, what exactly is the U.S. PIRG and what authority do they have? It’s a fair question when we’re talking about tests and studies like this. PIRG stands for “public interest research group,” and Wikipedia says “(PIRGs) are a federation of U.S. and Canadian non-profit organizations that employ grassroots organizing and direct advocacy with the goal of effecting liberal political change.”

On their own website, the U.S. PIRG describes itself, saying, “U.S. PIRG is an advocate for the public interest, working to win concrete results on real problems that affect millions of lives, and standing up for the public against powerful interests when they push the other way.”

So, now you know. The PIRG education fund  has a campaign for toxin-free school supplies, so they tested six different brands of crayons for harmful toxins. According to a story on WDTN.com, the lab tested two samples of the green crayon from the Playskool 24-pack sold at Dollar Tree, and found traces of asbestos.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen, indicated in serious illnesses like lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Umm, YIKES, I don’t care how big or small the traces of asbestos in those crayons were, I do NOT want my kids coloring with them! It’s not worth the risk, especially when most companies make perfectly safe school supplies for our kids.

Kara Cook-Schultz, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Toxics Director, said of the study, “Based on our testing, we know that most manufacturers make safe school supplies. We’re calling on the makers of unsafe products to get rid of toxic chemicals and protect American schoolchildren.”

I don’t personally think that’s too much to ask!

Responding to the report, a representative for Playskool’s parent company, Hasbro, told the Chicago Tribune it has launched an investigation into the claims. The manufacturer of the crayons, Leap Year Publishing, told the Tribune that it too is reviewing the tests.

The U.S. PIRG has a list of “safer” school supplies that parents can use as a guide to avoid asbestos and other toxins in supplies on their kids’ back-to-school lists.

Check out the U.S, PIRG’s shopping guide here to make sure the supplies you have purchased or are going to purchase are safe. Hope everyone has a great last couple weeks of summer!

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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.