School Officials say Clay could Contain Asbestos

The Connecticut Department of Public Health and Education is advising schools to stop using art clays that might have asbestos-contaminated talc added to them.

According to an article in The Day (New London, CT), a letter to public and private schools issued by the department recommends that schools purchase clay that does not contain talc, and to clean up art room areas where talc-containing clays were used in the past.

In its letter, the department noted that much of the talc used in art clays in Connecticut schools comes from one particular mine in New York where there have been ongoing investigations into whether the talc from this mine is contaminated with asbestos. The suspect talc is called NYTAL 100 and is sold by the R.T. Vanderbuilt Co.

The department added that it is concerned about the potential of users inhaling airborne asbestos dust, which causes an increased risk of various lung diseases, including asbestosis and mesothelioma, an asbestos-caused cancer.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has also been asked to examine this situation. In the meantime, the Art and Creative Materials Institute, which works with the commission to label art products as non-toxic‚ for children’s use, has recently withdrawn its certification for products that contain talc from the mine in question, according to the article.

Sheffield Pottery of Sheffield, Mass., a major supplier of clay to schools in Connecticut, has notified its customers in the state that it will not sell the talc containing clay, and recommends alternative clays for school use.

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