NDP Issues Christmas Toy Asbestos Warning

posted on:
November 30, 2007

author:
Staff

The NDP is calling on the federal government to shut down Canada’s asbestos industry and scrap “horrifying” regulations that allow the use of the cancer-causing mineral in children’s toys and other products.

New Democrat MPs Pat Martin and Libby Davies released test results Friday showing that asbestos is present in CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit – a popular new children’s toy made in China.

“Asbestos is the greatest industrial killer the world has ever known and you would have to be insane to put asbestos in children’s toys,” said Martin.

“It would be like putting razor blades in Halloween apples. So what does that say about a government that would allow it?”

Martin said new regulations under Canada’s Hazardous Materials Act allow asbestos-laden products “used by a child in education or play.”

The NDP wants Health Minister Tony Clement to order testing of toys for asbestos, and it’s demanding the Tory government repeal the legislation – which was updated on Wednesday – and ban asbestos from all products in Canada.

The Conservative government has fallen prey to “aggressive industry lobbyists” and is keeping its head in the sand about the dangers of asbestos, the NDP charged.

Japan, Australia, South Africa and all countries of the European Union have banned asbestos, Davies said.

“There is no safe level of asbestos,” Davies said. “There’s no question that it’s a carcinogen.

“We are exporting human misery at a staggering rate. Canada should be joining the international community to stop the production of asbestos and its export.”

Canada, which exports more than 200,000 tonnes of asbestos each year, should develop a relief program for workers and shut down the industry, she added.

The NDP produced test results from three different U.S. laboratories showing that dusting powder in the popular CSI Fingerprint Examination Kit – labelled for use by children aged 10 and up – contains five per cent tremolite asbestos, a particularly virulent form of the mineral.

Symptoms of exposure to tremolite asbestos dust can show up anytime from a couple years up to 40 years after first exposure. No safe exposure threshold for any of the asbestos minerals has been established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The $20-$30 CSI kit is made in China and licensed by CBS, which produces the popular crime-science television show. CBS Consumer Products said this week that it has asked its licensee to commission an independent asbestos test.

“If the toy is determined to be unsafe, then we will insist that the licensee remove it from the market,” a CBS spokesman said in a statement.

New York-based Planet Toys Worldwide was quoted as saying the firm frequently inspects its plants in China that make the CSI toys.

A spokeswoman said the CSI kit meets all U.S. safety standards, but noted that U.S. agencies “don’t require asbestos testing and therefore we have never been apprised of any unacceptable levels of asbestos.”

She said any toys shown to contain “unacceptable” products will be withdrawn from the market.

The toy remained on many retail websites in Canada and the United States on Friday.

Research has found that needle-like crystals permanently penetrate the lung tissue when dust-sized particles of asbestos are inhaled.

The crystals can eventually cause scarring of the lungs, called asbestosis, and can cause cancer of the lining of the lung, called mesothelioma. Both diseases are incurable and terminal.

Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl was diagnosed in August 2005 with mesothelioma. A former logging contractor, he spent years inhaling asbestos-laced brake dust from heavy equipment.

The U.S.-based Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, created in 2004 by asbestos victims and their families, had government-certified laboratories examine asbestos content in hundreds of consumer products.

The results were released Wednesday. It found asbestos in a variety of consumer products, including some drywall repair materials, roof sealers and duct tapes.

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