Children’s crayons presented in packaging with popular cartoon logos have been found to contain asbestos. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has revealed that the crayons tested positive for traces of the substance, and their importation from China has been banned.
The inclusion of familiar cartoon characters on the packaging, including Dora the Explorer, Frozen, and Peppa Pig, makes the crayons particularly attractive to young children. Worried parents have been told that they can return the product if they wish, for a refund or an alternative item.
The ACCC states that any asbestos present will be incorporated into the wax, and therefore cannot be inhaled by anyone using the crayons.
Why is asbestos so dangerous?
Asbestos was used in many household products during the 1960s, right up until its ban in the UK in 1999. Its prolific use in the construction industry means that it is highly likely to be found in buildings constructed prior to 2000.
When the substance is disturbed, dust and fibres are released into the air, and if inhaled can set up diseases in the lining of the lungs. Asbestos-related lung cancers and other respiratory problems attributed to asbestos exposure are commonly suffered by people who have been in contact with the substance on a regular basis.
Second highest death rate from mesothelioma
Mesothelioma is a particularly aggressive type of cancer caused by breathing in asbestos dust and fibres. Australia currently has the second highest rate of fatalities in the world from the disease.
Statistics show that since the early 1980s more than 10,000 people in Australia have contracted the disease, and that during the course of the next 40 years a further 25,000 deaths are predicted.
The severity of asbestos-related diseases is affected by the type of asbestos used. Some types of asbestos produce needle-like fibres, which are particularly damaging once inhaled.
No official recall of the product
The use of asbestos in Australia was banned at the end of 2003, and although the ACCC has not recalled the crayons concerned, nevertheless some people fear their children have been put at considerable risk.
Vicki Hamilton of the Asbestos Council of Victoria described her worries when she said:
“I am very concerned for our children – kids put things in their mouths and that concerns me with these items immensely.”
Parents have been told they can obtain a refund from the place of purchase, and that the crayons should be placed inside a sealed plastic bag or in the original packaging prior to return.
UKATA online training vital for those likely to come across asbestos
Asbestos awareness courses provide the knowledge needed by tradespeople to stay safe when working on properties constructed before 2000. The completion time for asbestos training courses is generally around 90 minutes.
The UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA) oversees course content from training providers to make sure it is up-to-date, and an HSE asbestos certificate is downloadable immediately on successful completion of each course.