Are children still at risk for asbestos exposure?

Prior to the 1900s, the dangers of asbestos were basically unknown. Starting in the early 1900s, scientists and doctors started observing a connection between asbestos and certain non-malignant lung diseases like pulmonary fibrosis or scarring. In the 1940s and 50s,  scientists and doctors took note of the correlation between asbestos exposure and lung cancer.

Now, there are fewer intentional uses for asbestos, and most are highly regulated (at least in the U.S.). However, there are still potential risks for exposure. While you may consider exposure to this dangerous substance a risk for adults, some products can put your child at risk.

Here’s what you should know about products aimed at children that might expose them to asbestos.

The tools of childhood

Certain children’s toys and supplies can carry a similar risk of containing asbestos as some of the more familiar products you may see testing positive for asbestos. Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder has been in the news a lot lately over asbestos found in its product. Over the last five years, even a few children’s products tested positive for asbestos, including a makeup set and crayons.

How is asbestos getting into these products?

The challenge with asbestos is that it is typically not an intentional ingredient in these products. Often, asbestos ends up in these products due to negligent manufacturing.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral; so too is talc (or talcum powder). Typically, the same mines where manufacturers get talc may also contain asbestos. The two substances tend to be so close together that the talc can become intermixed with asbestos.

With both the crayons and the makeup, the products contained talc contaminated with asbestos. Stores took the products off the market relatively quickly; however, it still raises questions about what other products may test positive for asbestos.

When choosing toys and other materials for your children, watch for ingredients like talc that increase the risk of accidental contamination.

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