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Tuesday, 21 November, 2000, 12:19 GMT
Asbestos traces raise crayon concern
nursery class
Crayola crayons are widely used in nursery school
A best-selling brand of children's crayons have been found to contain minute traces of asbestos by independent tests.

Officials in both Denmark and Norway have expressed concern about the crayons, while the US authorities have already asked for the product to be reformulated.

The crayons have been voluntarily withdrawn in Denmark, but the makers have assured parents that they are safe.

The company, Binney and Smith, which has factories in Bedford in the UK, and the US, has done this, but reports say that stock currently in the shops for Christmas is of the previous formulation.

These crayons have been made using contaminated talcum powder from a mine in North America.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission, which carried out some of the testing, confirmed the presence of small quantities of asbestos.

Asbestos fibres can cause serious disease if ingested or breathed, and the US experts concluded that there was an "extremely low" risk, with no scientific basis for a full product recall.

'Insignificant'

The amount of asbestos in the crayon was described as "so small it is scientifically insignificant."

In a simulation of a child vigorously colouring using a crayon for half an hour, no fibres were released into the air.

Because they are embedded in wax, even if swallowed, they would pass through the child's body.

However, the experts concluded it was still undesireable for the fibres to be in the children's crayons into the long term.

CPSC Chairman Ann Brown said: "The risk is low but the concerns with these fibres should not be ignored."

A spokesman for Binney and Smith said: "Parents can be assured, that there is no risk to children from Crayola Crayons. We put safety first, second and third. Trading Standards officers have declared the product safe for use."

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