Toxic School Supplies: New Report Lists What to Avoid
Don't show this article to your kids — it may be their best excuse to skip back-to-school shopping.
Some supplies, which you can still find on the shelves, contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer and other serious diseases, according to a report from U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund.
"We don't think parents should have to worry about this in 2018," said Dev Gowda, director of the Fund's campaign for toxic-free products.
With the help of an independent lab, the group tested dozens of school supplies found through major retailers. While most were nontoxic, some products were flagged for carcinogens.
- Playskool crayons: Trace amounts of asbestos were found in crayons sold at Dollar Tree. Asbestos, which can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, has recently been found in other children's products as well, the report said. The group tested the green color crayon.
- Board Dudes dry-erase markers: Benzene, a carcinogen linked to leukemia and disruptions in organ function, was discovered in markers purchased through Amazon.com.
- Jot blue 3-ring binder: The levels of phthalates in the binder are considered unsafe for children by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. High levels can lead to birth defects, hyperactivity and reproductive problems.
Hasbro, Playskool's parent company, said product and children's safety are its top priorities. The company is conducting a thorough investigation into the report's claims.
Leap Year, the licensee of the Playskool crayons, said all products, including the green crayon mentioned in the report, are thoroughly tested to meet or exceed all standards for safety.
"We are currently re-verifying that they are safe and free of any asbestos, as well as requesting a review of PIRG's testing methods," the company said in a statement.
Gowda said consumers can look for an "AP" label on crayons, markers and glue to help determine whether they're about to purchase a nontoxic product. It's a voluntary logo, however, so it won't be featured on all safe products.
In all, the Fund tested six types of crayons; three 3-ring binders; two water bottles; two brands of washable markers; two types of dry-erase markets; two glue sticks and two liquid glues; the metal wires of three spiral notebooks; three plastic rulers; and two lunch boxes.