The news that traces of asbestos have been found in children's crayons in Australia and Canada should be treated seriously says the UK Asbestos Training Association (UKATA). The crayons, which were imported from China, are not to be recalled as it's believed the product doesn't pose a danger due to the asbestos being set in the wax, thus removing the risk of inhalation.
However, experts at UKATA say that having asbestos at any level present in a children's product, no matter how low the risk is unacceptable due to the very real dangers presented by the substance.
"We need to raise awareness of the real dangers of asbestos exposure and let people know that it's definitely not a thing of the past," said Craig Evans, UKATA General Manager. "If nothing else, stories like this do help to encourage people to rethink how they deal with the substance."
One company has already pulled the crayons, (some marketed with images from films such as Frozen and TV programmes like Peppa Pig) from its shelves, bringing praise for acting responsibly. Craig says that asbestos is more dangerous than people think, and should be treated with the seriousness it deserves.
In making a case for no recall, it has been argued the asbestos in the crayons is 'safe' because it is set in wax. While this may be the case, this scenario takes no account of the risk of asbestos being released when children use them. Children (and some adults) also tend to put pencils and crayons in their mouths. When you factor in that the average child goes through some 730 crayons by the time they are ten, the risks could be greater than initially thought.
"Asbestos often looks harmless and cannot be definitely identified just by looking at it, even less so when concealed in wax children's crayons," added Craig. "We can't change the past, but we can change attitudes now and cases like this serve as a great way to convey the message on the dangers of asbestos to the wider public."