CPSC Releases Test Results on Crayons, Industry to Reformulate

June 13, 2000
Release Number: 00123

(CPSC) today released results of tests on crayons after concerns were raised about asbestos in some popular brands.

CPSC found a trace amount of asbestos in two Crayola crayons made by Binney and Smith and one Prang crayon made by Dixon Ticonderoga. However, the amount of asbestos is so small it is scientifically insignificant.

In Crayola crayons and Prang crayons, CPSC also found larger amounts of another fiber, called "transitional" fiber, which is similar in appearance to asbestos fiber. While there are potential concerns about these fibers if children are exposed to them, CPSC tests concluded that the risk a child would be exposed to the fibers either through inhalation or ingestion is extremely low and there is no scientific basis for a recall.

The risk of exposure to the fibers from using crayons is low. In a simulation of a child vigorously coloring with a crayon for half an hour, no fibers were found in the air. The risk of exposure by eating crayons is also low because the fibers are imbedded in wax and pass through a child's body. However, CPSC concluded that these fibers should not be in children's crayons in the long term.

As a precaution, because crayons are intended for use by children, CPSC asked industry to reformulate crayons using substitute ingredients. Binney and Smith and Dixon Ticonderoga quickly volunteered to reformulate within a year to eliminate the fibers. Rose Art, which has only a small percentage of crayons made with talc, also agreed to reformulate.

"Where children are concerned, you have to be extra cautious, "said CPSC Chairman Ann Brown. "The risk is low but the concerns with these fibers should not be ignored. I'm pleased that all the major manufacturers, including Crayola, Prang and Rose Art went the extra mile to allay concerns about these fibers."

CPSC tests concluded that there is no cause for concern. Parents and teachers can continue to use the crayons they have and purchase crayons from store shelves.

Transitional fibers can be found in talc, which is used as a binding agent in some crayons. Talc is a mineral that can be found with many other types of minerals in some rock formations.

The CPSC tests were conducted by a government lab and a private lab to see whether consistent results would be obtained. Both labs had similar results. The sophisticated testing included analysis of the fibers through light refraction and visual examination through an electron microscope.

CPSC will continue to monitor children's crayons to make sure they are safe.