Asbestos and talc
Talc is sometimes contaminated with asbestos.
In 2000, tests in a certified asbestos-testing laboratory found the
tremolite form of amphibole asbestos in three out of eight bigger brands
of children’s crayons that are made partly from talc: Crayola, Prang, and RoseArt. In Crayola crayons, the tests found asbestos levels from 0.05% in Carnation Pink to 2.86% in Orchid; in Prang crayons, the range was from 0.3% in Periwinkle to 0.54% in Yellow; in Rose Art crayons, it was from 0.03% in Brown to 1.20% in Orange.
Overall, 32 different types of crayons from these brands contained more
than trace amounts of asbestos, and eight others contained trace
amounts. The Art and Creative Materials Institute, a trade association
which tests the safety of crayons on behalf of the makers, initially
insisted the test results must be incorrect, although they later said
they do not test for asbestos.
In May 2000, Crayola said tests by a materials analyst, Richard Lee,
whose testimony has been accepted in lawsuits over 250 times on behalf
of the asbestos industry, showed two of its crayons were negative for
In June 2000, Binney & Smith, the maker of Crayola, and the other
makers agreed to stop using talc in their products, and changed their
product formulations in the United States. The mining company, R T Vanderbilt Co of Gouverneur, New York,
which supplied the talc to the crayon makers, insists there is no
asbestos in its talc “to the best of our knowledge and belief”,
but a news article claimed that the United States Mine Safety and
Health Administration (MSHA) did find asbestos in four talc samples that
it tested in 2000.
At the time, however, the Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and
Health informed the news reporter that his article was in error and that
the reporter had misquoted him stating that “In fact, the abbreviation
ND (non detect) in the laboratory report – indicates no asbestos fibers
actually were found in the samples.”
Further supporting the claim of Vanderbilt that asbestos is not found
in this industrial grade talc (composed of a very complex mineral
mixture) is a decades old record of analytical work that does not find
asbestos in this talc by mineral scientists in academia, government and
Human, animal and cell health studies conducted on Vanderbilt’s
controversial talc also lend no support for the presence of asbestos in
Several non fully peer-reviewed health reports concerning Vanderbilt
talc do exist and suggest a “same as” asbestos risk, some of which were
referenced in the previously cited news articles.