Friday, November 30, 2007

The Dangers of Asbestos

You may have observed the removal of old asbestos from buildings, presumably from far away, unless you were one of the removers clad in those space suits the workers wear for protection because asbestos is a known health hazard. But you may be unaware that asbestos may exist in new products, too, even in some toys meant for children:

The CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit, two brands of children's play clay, powdered cleanser, roof sealers, duct tapes, window glazing, spackling paste and small appliances were among the products in which asbestos was found by at least two of three labs hired by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.

The group, which was created in 2004 by asbestos victims and their families, spent more than $165,000 to have government-certified laboratories examine hundreds of consumer products over 18 months to determine whether asbestos was present.

It is unusual for a group of volunteers, many of whom have asbestos-caused diseases, to fund research that impacts public health.

"We had to. No one else was doing it," said Linda Reinstein, the group's co-founder and executive director. "This is information that consumers and Congress must have because asbestos is lethal and we naively believe that the government is protecting us, when it's not."

The product that is of greatest concerns to some public health experts is the fingerprint kit, which is a huge seller, according to sales personnel interviewed by the Seattle P-I.

The asbestos in the fingerprint kit was found in the powders the kit contains. These are very likely to be inhaled while playing with the kit.

I'm not sure how reliable private laboratory tests are, but it's of clear concern to find that the government is not testing for asbestos.
Via Rants from the Rookery.