Asbestos in crayons

The Australian Border Force has vowed to crack down on the importation of children’s toys

Crayons made with cancer-causing asbestos are the last thing you want your child to be putting their mouth.

But an investigation by public health watchdog the EWG Action Fund has found kids’ crayons sold in Australia contained the deadly material — along with several other toys shipped down under by online retailers.

Now the head of the Australian Border Force, the new agency merging customs and border control, has promised a crackdown.

The toys alleged to contain asbestos include a CSI-style science kit with “forensic” powder, a necklace and several brands of children’s crayons.

“We didn’t expect to find asbestos in crayons. But it’s there,” said EWG senior analyst Sonya Lunder.

“The results are significant because even trace exposure to asbestos can cause cancer and other fatal lung diseases.”

The products that test positive for asbestos, all of them made in China, were:

  •  Amscan crayons
  •  Disney mickey mouse Clubhouse crayons by Greenbrier International Inc
  •  Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons by MII Inc
  •  Saban’s Power Rangers Super Megaforce crayons by Greenbrier International Inc
  •  Black fingerprint powder in the Toys R Us Eduscience Delux Forensics Lab kit
  •  White fingerprint powder in the Buy-Rite Inside Intelligence Secret Spy kit

Australian unions and asbestos support groups have called for tougher enforcement of our asbestos ban, warning that young lives are at risk.

ACTU Assistant Secretary Michael Borowick urged the Federal Government to boost the ABF’s funding to “ensure they are equipped to enforce the ban on asbestos.”

“Asbestos has already killed many thousands of Australians, and sadly the full impact of asbestos-related diseases is not expected to peak until 2020,” Mr Borowick said.

ABF Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg told The Australian the dangerous products were slipping “below the radar” and vowed to bolster the force’s seizure efforts.

But he admitted the agency had struggled to win convictions ­“because of the difficulty in terms of proving the source and the ­intent”.

The comments came after a delegation from unions and asbestos ­support groups travelled to Canberra to put forward their case.

Momentum is gathering around the world for a crackdown on asbestos in children’s toys, with supporters calling on retailers to stop selling products that contain the deadly fibre and tweeting the hashtag #PlayingWithAsbestos.

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