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Profile photo of Stacy

by Stacy

Crayola Play Sand

October 16, 2012 in General

Written by Marie Davis
Article reprinted here with exclusive permission to Marie (ladybug15057) for use on the Crab Street Journal and, by author’s stipulations, may not be reprinted elsewhere. You are always welcome to link to this article.

There is a newer product on the market called Crayola play sand. It comes in 4 vibrant colors pink, purple, green and blue which means some form of coloring additive is used. From past research I have done, I had learned that just because it is FDA, OHSA, EPA, etc. approved or within their standards, or considered safe for children does this necessarily mean it is safe for one to put within the crabitat where our hermit crabs live their whole lives while living in captivity with us.

FDA, EPA, and OSHA (as well as others) do permit for a percentage of known harmful ingredients to be within a product before it requires it to be labeled as dangerous or poisonous, or before it is pulled off of the shelves where they are sold. With majority of the studies that are done, it is normally regarding studies on humans, and even then many times the results are not considered conclusive, especially the long term effects.

When I began researching I came across a forum that claimed that the Crayola play sand also had an antifungal agent within it.

I had gone to Crayola’s web site and found it does state that products containing lead must be labeled as such per California Proposition 65. It does not state that there is not lead in the Crayola products, only that they must have on the label that the lead content complies with FDA regulations.

Doing a Google search shows that even with all the known health issues with lead, a certain percentage of lead is acceptable in products sold in the U.S. This includes and not limited to candy children often eat, as well as in the wrappers it is wrapped in, water we drink, foods we eat, etc. Household and public water pipes, or the soder used to connect these pipes was banned by EPA in June 1988. This means that many older households, building structures, as well as public water suppliers who have not replaced all the water pipes still contain lead in the pipes and soder that was used.
Regardless of whether it is FDA, OSHA, EPA, etc. a certain amount of impurities are permissible in all products on the market and will pass inspection by their standards of considered safe toxicity levels when tested.

I had made a telephone call directly to Crayola, and spoke with Chris. She in turn mentioned that the toll free telephone number that was listed on Crayola’s web site was for sales, and referred me to their licensing partner play sand manufacturer N2M in Texas for the information I was seeking. When I called N2M I had received the receptionist who had taken my name and telephone number and my call was returned.
I had a few questions regarding Crayola play sand written down in preparation for some of the concerns I had.
One was the coating that was used on the play sand. It explained that the coating on the Crayola play sand I had read about was an acrylic coating that was approved by Arts and Creative Materials Institute and used for arts and crafts. The acrylic colorant used to color the quartz sand was an ACMI approved colorant and used for arts and crafts. I mentioned I had read on the internet the play sand had an antifungal deterrent used on it, and she stated there was and it too was approved by the Arts and Creative Materials Institute guidelines and was also used in arts and crafts materials. The N2M Group Administrator had mentioned that through human studies it was recommended to use a sun screen on younger children prior to exposing them to the Crayola play sand due to how sensitive their skin is and the possibility of absorbing anything from the play sand and to help stop the possible irritation of their skin. With this in mind, I thought of how soft a hermies abdomen is, as well as how gel like they are when they molt and what, if any, effects it would have on a hermit crab.

This led me to ask if any studies had been done on hermit crabs and the Administrator stated that due to Animal right laws, PETA, and other Animal rights organizations their company was not licensed to do any testing on animals be it cat, dog, hermit crab, fish, etc.

I mentioned that searching the Crayola play sand I was unable to locate a MSDS sheet on this product. The Group Administrator had taken my e-mail address and e-mailed me both the MSDS as well as the letter from Duke University School of Medicine giving me permission to use them. It was explained to me that the information was copyrighted as with all the information on Crayola’s web site. I explained to the Group Administrator that I was one of the Site Administrators of the Crab Street Journal and wanted to share the information with all the staff and its members. I was given permission to use the MSDS as well as the letter from Duke University in my article, but I also had to make a note that it is copyrighted and without authorization of its use it fell under the Crayola’s copyright law.


Once I received them, I decided to research even further. From the research, I would strongly recommend to err on the side of caution where it comes to hermit crabs and not use this as a substrate within a crabitat.
Researching what ACMI’s guidelines were for arts and crafts acrylic colorants and acrylic coatings, I came across that they follow the FDA and OSHA guidelines for safe levels of any products sold in the U.S.

Arts and Crafts acrylic paint ingredients are 1, 2-Ethanediol (5-10%), Kaolin (1-5%), Titanium Oxide (20-30%), 2-Propenoic Acid, Butyl Ester, Polymer with ethenyl acetate (20-30%), Propanoic acid, 2- Methyl, Monoester with 2, 2, 4 Trimethyl, 1, 3 pentanediol (1-5%), Water (40-50%)
Formaldehyde is used as a preservative in many acrylic paints and photographic products.
At these percentages for the arts and crafts acrylic paint ingredients it is considered safe by OSHA and FDA. Yet there is an area as well for emergency and first aid procedures for inhaling of this acrylic paint, skin contact as well as if it is ingested. “Ingestion: If swallowed, give two glasses of water to drink. Consult a physician.” Please remember, these emergency and first aid procedures are for humans, not hermit crabs who may end up eating the play sand daily with the above ingredients, as well as living on or burrowed under this play sand.

Arts and crafts acrylic coatings ingredients are:
P-Tert-Butylphenol, Hydrous Magnesium silicate, M-Xylene-Alpha, Alpha Diamine, Trimethylhexamethylenediamine, Phenol, Formaldehyde Amine Polymer, 4- Nonyl Phenol..Branched, Polyamide.
The arts and crafts acrylic coating is also considered to be at safe levels by the OSHA and FDA for humans. But also has warnings about this acrylic coating that it may cause chemical eye or skin burns, may cause allergic skin or respiratory reactions, as well as it maybe absorbed through the skin and possibly target organ effects.
Again, Please remember, these emergency and first aid procedures are for humans, not hermit crabs who may end up eating the play sand daily with the above ingredients, as well as living on or burrowed under this play sand.

Green Options
Green Living Magazine
Written by: Gary A. Davis and Em Turner, University of Tennessee – Knoxville Waste Management Institute

ASTDR Department of Health and Human Services

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services HHS

The Crayola Store
MSDS-Arts and crafts acrylic paint

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by Stacy

Playing with your Hermit Crab

September 25, 2012 in Caresheets

Compilation of information by Vanessa Pike-Russell and updated by Angela Lipscomb

There are many things you can do when playing with your crab. Why not set up an obstacle course of driftwood, rocks or plastic tubing? Hermit crabs just love to climb and exhibit their acrobatic skills. In the wild some hermit crabs live in trees, so it is a good idea to have something for them to climb on!

Not only can you hold them and watch them climb, but after some quality time with your pet they will actually come when you call them. Each time you handle them give them a little bit of food and talk softly to them, in a soothing manner. Hermit crabs do not have ears and are not able to hear, but they are very sensitive to vibrations, and will learn to associate the vibrations of your voice to you. If you have young children, ask them to sit down when handling them, ideally on a spare bed sheet spread out on the lounge room or bedroom floor, and help them to understand that gentleness earns trust.

Exercise is very important to hermit crab health, as they often wander a mile or so in the wild during their nightly escapades. Not only is it fun to watch them clamber about, climb and explore, but you will find that active hermit crabs eat more and are usually much healtheir for it.

Exercise Balls / Exerspheres

Exercise balls are lots of fun and very safe for your hermit crabs to romp around the loungeroom or bedroom floor. “Give your pet the freedom to roam and enjoy some freedom from the boring cage life!  Just put your little friend inside the well ventilated ball and watch him go.  The mini size is ideal for dwarf hamsters, mice, hermit crabs, and other similar tiny animals.  Ideal for use when cleaning the cage and for providing hours of interactive fun during playtime.  Well ventilated, locking lids for worry-free play.  Made of shatter-resistant plastic.  Available in transparent, glow in the dark, or colored models.  Each ball is approximately 4-1/2″ in diameter.”


Hermie Race

All you need to do is to take a hoola hoop and lower it onto a clean surface (I use a clean bedsheet because I have carpet) and then place your hermies in the center of it.

Sit back and watch them scamper to the hoola hoop finish line. Your have your own hermit crab race!

Hermie Climb

Another good hermie game is to make a little tower out of plastic mesh or gutter guard, driftwood tree or piece of grapevine. Make sure it is not too high up because you don’t want your hermies to get hurt if they fall. To make sure they are safe you could have pillows about the base. You could make something like a cat’s scratching post, with a vertical piece of wood covered in material such as astroturf or synthetic grass; ZooMed ReptiCarpet; fleece or other material as long as you can unpin or take it off for washing if it needs it.

Put your two hermies on the top and watch them climb down. Or they could start at the base and watch them climb up. They are experts at climbing and so fun to watch them hanging upside down or teetering on the edge.

Another idea is have a Rubbermaid type container, or a hard plastic baby pool in which the hermit crabs can scoot about safely within. You can also get creative and make your own hermit crab climbing toys for within the container. Make sure to keep the climbing items within the middle of the container so they cannot climb over the side, or drop out of the area. This will help too when one wants to clean their tank and ensure their little ones are safe.

Note: it is important to wash your hands before and after playing with your land hermit crabs.

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