News Releases

Murray Applauds Retailers for Pulling Asbestos Contaminated Toy

Dec 21 2007

Following Murray's letter to group of major retailers, top stores sales stop of potentially deadly children's toy

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded actions taken by the online divisions of top toy retailers including Toys "R" Us and KB Toys after they stopped sales of a toy that has tested positive for deadly asbestos. Senator Murray last week contacted Walgreens, KB Toys, and Toys "R" Us to ask that they terminate sales of the toy - Planet Toys' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation™ Fingerprint Examination Kit. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and the Environmental Working Group presented Senator Murray with solid scientific evidence that the toy contains the most deadly form of asbestos – tremolite.

Senator Murray was particularly troubled that the toy, which simulates the fingerprint dusting process, encourages children to blow on the contaminated powder.

"Any amount of this fiber in a children’s toy, particularly in a powder that is certain to be inhaled, is completely unacceptable," Senator Murray wrote in her letter. "A single exposure to tremolite is sufficient to cause fatal mesothelioma or lung cancer later in life."

In addition to Senator Murray's concern, the State of Connecticut this week ordered that all retailers in that state pull the product from their shelves.

“Americans deserve to have their faith restored in their government’s ability to protect them from preventable dangers and I intend to work with my colleagues in the Senate to make that happen,” said Senator Murray.  “I look forward to working with a revitalized Consumer Product Safety Commission that will make sure that unsafe products, including toys, never make it to the shelf or into the hands of our children.”

Senator Murray helped secure $80 million for the CPSC in this year’s spending bill, $16.8 million more than the President’s request.  Those funds will be used to enhance the agency’s ability to safeguard consumers from dangerous products, particularly its efforts to keep dangerous toys and other products away from children.

Senator Murray has authored legislation in the U.S. Senate that prohibits the importation, manufacture, processing and distribution of products containing asbestos. That legislation passed the Senate unanimously earlier this month – read MORE. Under Senator Murray's legislation, this toy or similar toys would not be allowed in the United States or on any store shelves.

Senator Murray is urging those who have purchased this potentially contaminated item to return it to the original place of purchase.

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The text of the letter Senator Murray sent to Walgreens, Toys "R" Us and KB Toys is below:


December 13, 2007

I am writing in the midst of this holiday shopping season with grave concerns about potential asbestos contamination in a children’s toy: Planet Toys’ CSI: Crime Scene Investigationä Fingerprint Examination Kit. 

Scientists using state of the art techniques at three different labs have presented evidence to me of the most deadly form of asbestos, tremolite, in six out of eight powders tested. Tremolite was found at percentages as high as 7.2 percent in 1 of the 5 powders contained in the kit, and in 6 out of 8 samples tested. 

I am aware that follow-up tests by manufacturers and retailers have failed to confirm these results, but to date the industry has not released their test results making it impossible to evaluate the sensitivity of these tests and the reliability of their findings.

I am writing to ask that you put the health of children first and immediately remove from sale all Planet Toys’ CSI: Crime Scene Investigationä Fingerprint Examination Kits until independent third party testing using the most sensitive methods available can confirm or rebut the finding of significant and potentially deadly concentrations of tremolite in this product. 

I fully recognize that retailers are not responsible for contamination in products like this.  But at the same time, retailers are uniquely positioned to take quick, proactive steps to protect the public from hazardous consumer products. In the face of strong evidence of contamination in at least a portion of this product, I urge you to act to protect children while further testing is conducted. 

The type of asbestos detected in these kits, tremolite, is one of the most lethal forms, and is the same deadly asbestos fiber contained in products made from ore mined at the notorious W.R. Grace mine in Libby, Montana. Tremolite asbestos, like that detected in the CSI: Crime Scene Investigationä Fingerprint Examination Kits, has killed scores of people in Libby, many who never worked in the mine itself. 

What is particularly troubling about this toy is that children are directed to blow the asbestos contaminated powder after dusting for fingerprints, which would make it much more likely that children playing with this toy would actually inhale potentially lethal asbestos fibers.

Any amount of this fiber in a children’s toy, particularly in a powder that is certain to be inhaled, is completely unacceptable.  A single exposure to tremolite is sufficient to cause fatal mesothelioma or lung cancer later in life.

The dangers of asbestos exposure are something I take very seriously. In fact, I authored legislation that passed the Senate unanimously earlier this year that prohibits the importation, manufacture, processing and distribution of products containing asbestos. And, under my bill this toy would not be allowed inside the United States or on a single store shelve.

While debate over exposures to some chemicals and toxics may still be ongoing, there is none when it comes to asbestos. Over 40 countries around the world have already banned asbestos.

There is a national epidemic of asbestos related diseases that claims the lives of ten thousand Americans each year, many of whom were unwittingly exposed early in life.

The possibility of exposing a single child to this deadly chemical should motivate your company to take action.

I look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,


Patty Murray
United States Senator