China-Manufactured School Supplies Sold in US, Canada Found to Contain Toxic Chemicals

By Annie Wu, Epoch Times
August 10, 2018 Last Updated: August 12, 2018

Results of laboratory tests detailed in a report released Aug. 7 indicated traces of asbestos, lead and other dangerous chemicals exist in a number of popular school supplies—some of them manufactured in China—sold in the United States and Canada.

After sending 27 school items to an independent laboratory, the U.S. nonprofit Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) released a report that also confirmed—in addition to lead and asbestos—the existence of bisphenol-A (BPA), an industrial chemical used in the manufacture of certain plastics.

For example, PIRG found that green-colored crayons in a box of Playskool brand crayons contained asbestos, a carcinogen that is known to lead to lung cancer and other harmful health conditions. The crayons—which were made in China—are widely available at popular retailers, such as Dollar Tree, where the PIRG researchers purchased them.

Playskool crayons tested positive for asbestos. (Screenshot via PIRG)

In addition, dry-erase markers from The Board Dudes, which are also made in China, were found to contain BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene) chemicals, which can disrupt the endocrine system, immune system, sexual reproduction, and liver and kidney function, according to the report.  Benzene also is considered a carcinogen by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The markers are available at retailers such as Kmart and e-retailer Amazon.com.

The report also noted that two lines of water bottles geared to children were previously recalled for containing high levels of lead: Base Brands’ Reduce Hydro Pro Furry Friends and L.L. Bean’s GSI Outdoor Children’s Water Bottles, in April of this year and in July 2016, respectively. Both are manufactured in China. The Base Brands water bottles had been sold at Costco and Amazon.com.

Costco told The Epoch Times in a voicemail message that the recalled item has been replaced on the retailer’s website by a “completely new water bottle” that has “passed all testing.”

PIRG urged both the retailers and school supply brands to recall the products that tested positive for the toxic chemicals. In addition, PIRG recommended that parents shopping for their children’s school supplies should look for an “approved product” seal by The Art and Creative Materials Institute that certifies a product is non-toxic.

On Aug. 8, Canada’s public-health department recalled more than 500,000 made-in-China “Skip Ball” toys sold across the country, including at the popular Dollarama retain chain, according to Canadian media Global News.

The toys, which consists of a pink ankle loop attached to a plastic cord and ball, contained high levels of phthalates. According to the PIRG report, exposure to phthalates can affect development of the male reproductive system and lead to early puberty. Studies also have linked phthalates to asthma, childhood obesity, and lower IQ scores.

In December 2010, Canada issued restrictions on the use of phthalates in children’s toys and baby products such as bibs and teethers. Thus far, no complaints or injuries related to the toys have been reported, according to Global News.

China’s poor safety standards have allowed many toxic products to be manufactured and sold in the country, from the melamine-laced baby formula scandal in 2008 to adulterated health supplements. At times, such products have been exported abroad, such as chemical-laced construction material, children’s clothing, and pet food, the latter causing kidney failure and even death in pets.