Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Asbestos Found in Crayons and Crime Scene Kits

A study commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG) Action Fund has found that four brands of children’s crayons and two kids’ crime scene fingerprint kits sold in the United States contain asbestos. This report follows two previous tests performed in 2000 and 2007 which found asbestos present in some crayons and finger printing kits. According to the labels, these products were made in China and imported to the U.S.

The two crime scene kits were found to contain higher concentrations of asbestos than the crayon samples. Also, the loose powders in the kits were found to pose a greater inhalation risk or airborne fibers than the crayons. None of the products warned users to avoid the dust. In fact, the instructions for the EduScience Deluxe Forensics Lab Kit instructs users to: “Put a small amount of dusting powder on the brush, use the blower to blow on the brush gently and then run the brush softly over the fingerprinted spot. Use the blower to blow off excess powder on top.”

The asbestos found in these products is present likely as a result of asbestos-contaminated talc used as a binding agent in the crayons and used as an ingredient in the powder of the crime scene kits. Asbestos has been found in many mines alongside talc deposits. Concerns about asbestos contamination of talc first surfaced in the early 1970s, but federal agencies have failed to enact rules to ensure that talc used in consumer and industrial products is asbestos-free.

Because of its widespread use in consumer products, the purity of commercial talc is a critical issue. It absorbs moisture, oils and odors and is added to many personal care products and pharmaceuticals. It is the basic ingredient in many body and food powders. It is also used as a filler for pills and is dusted on candy and used in the production of olive oil.

CNN contacted importers, distributors and retailers named in the report for comment. Representatives from Amazon, MII Inc. and Buy-Rite could not be reached. Spokes-persons for Dollar Tree, Party City, and Toys R Us have issued statement that their brands take the safety of consumers very seriously and are further investigating the findings of EWG’s report.

It is believed that children exposed to asbestos are at even greater risk of developing asbestos related diseases than persons exposed as adults. At this time, Connecticut is the only state which has imposed an outright ban of asbestos in children’s’ products.

Read the full report here.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Why Does Asbestos Cause Mesothelioma?

Researchers out of Brazil have published findings from a new study that begins to help explain how asbestos ultimately causes mesothelioma in the human body.

Researchers at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil exposed pleural mesothelium cells in mice to crocidolite and chrysotile asbestos fibers and found that the asbestos exposed cells began over producing inflammatory cytokines, a type of protein. The healthy mesothelial cells also began experiencing apoptosis (programmed death) and necrosis (death from injury) at higher rates.

Researcher’s then neutralized the cytokines with antibodies to confirm their findings, and found that neutralizing the proteins effectively prevented further death to healthy mesothelial cells.

We know that mesothelioma occurs when asbestos fibers are ingested or inhaled, and lodge themselves in the tissue of the body. What is not known, is by what mechanisms asbestos causes the cell mutation that ultimately leads to the growth of cancerous cells. Identifying the proteins responsible for this mutation will hopefully allow researchers to develop preventative treatment for those exposed to asbestos.

Read the abstract here.