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Asbestos suspected in 'CSI' fingerprint kit

Kids playing high-tech detective may get a whiff of asbestos potent enough to lead to cancer.

Kids who want to play CSI can use a kit that shows how to dust for fingerprints, blowing away excess powder in the process. The play dust, however, contains enough asbestos to trigger cancer later in life, according to the nonprofit Environmental Working Group, which tracks toxic ingredients in consumer products.

Watchdog groups call hidden asbestos the crime in this scene.
Watchdog groups call hidden asbestos the crime in this scene. Planet Toys

The powder was found to contain as much as 7 percent of tremolite, one the most fatal forms of asbestos. One-time exposure has been linked with developing lung disease and mesothelioma years or decades later. The toxicant was found in six of eight samples tested by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization during a five-month examination that also found asbestos in toy clay.

The maker of the CSI kit, which is produced in China, said it performed its own tests and found no asbestos. The package continues to be sold for between $10 and $30 at eToys, Toys R Us, and other merchants.

Tests released by other nonprofit environmental groups Wednesday found lead, arsenic, and other toxic chemicals in more than one-third of 1,200 popular toys, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Some consumer advocacy groups believe that lead appearing in jewelry and children's toys made in China may originate from circuit boards and other parts of discarded electronics.

Such news may lead parents to worry about a world more dangerous than the one in which they grew up, as today's playthings can harm children's health or just addle their attention. Toys of the past, like the Zulu toy gun, may have been more obviously hazardous, but hidden toxic ingredients are harder to measure.