Toxic chemicals found in common school supplies: What you need to know


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – It is time to start thinking about getting kids ready to go back to school which includes purchasing all those necessary school supplies.

This week, a non-profit released its results of toxic chemicals found in common school supplies. Those included crayons, markers, and binders.

But there are things parents can do to buy safe school supplies.

One group has been testing products for chemicals for 30 years. But this was the first time it tested school supplies and found the results to be alarming.

Inside this box of colorful kids’ crayons is one with a dangerous toxic chemical.

“We know that children at the most vulnerable to any kind of toxic exposures because their bodies are growing and their brains are still developing,” CALPIRG Public Health Advocate Laura Deehan said. “They are much, much more to toxic exposure.”

The non-profit sent 27 common back-to-school supplies to an independent lab for chemical tests.

The worst offender is a green crayon made by Playskool and purchased at a Dollar Tree store.

“The crayons that we found included asbestos, definitely want to avoid that,” Deehan said. 

CALPIRG also found the blue plastic in a binder from Dollar Tree contained phthalates, which is linked to lower IQ scores and obesity.

But a test on the glue turned out to be just fine.

Another alarm from the research–dry-erase markers from Amazon that tested positive for benzene, a known carcinogen.

The problem is–the label said non-toxic.

“So clearly, those labels don’t mean anything,” Deehan said. “We can’t trust them.”

But there is a label, Deehan says, you can trust.

That is the Independent Arts and Creative-AP label that indicates it is non-toxic.

“Parents should be able to go to the store and buy products that are safe and the fact that they can’t is pretty ridiculous,” Deehan said.

Playskool says that “product and children’s safety are top priorities” for the company.

And Dollar Tree said, “The listed products successfully passed inspections.”

Meanwhile, the group that did the tests wants companies that make or sell the products to stop selling them and to notify consumers about the chemicals the tests showed they contain.

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