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The manufacturer of a modeling clay used by school...

By ELLEN L. SLOTT

WAYNE, N.J. -- The manufacturer of a modeling clay used by school children and recently discovered to be laced with asbestos says it will immediately recall the product.

Milton Bradley Co. of Springfield, Mass., which stopped manufacturing the Fibro-Clay in 1975, said Thursday it would immediately pull the clay of the market.

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A spokesman for the Consumer Products Safety Commission said the agency was investigating the situation.

'We're looking into it. We have an investigation going,' Lou Brott said. 'We're checking it.'

Wayne Township Schools Superintendent David O'Grady said the clay had been used in one art teacher's classroom at the Lafayette Elementary School for 'three or four years' and estimated 'several hundred' school children had played with the clay during the last three years.

There are 50 children in that class now, but he cautioned it was 'very difficult' to tell how many children had come in contact with the clay over the years. He noted it might have been used throughout the district 'since teachers get transferred and some might bring it with them to a different school.'

'It would have to be several hundred (children) at any rate,' O'Grady said.

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The clay was removed 10 days ago when Michael Gelman, 7, of Wayne, brought home a clay snowman he had made to show his father, Jon, an attorney who specializes in asbestos cases.

'When some of the residuals stayed in his clothing, I became suspicious,' Gelman said, adding he then sent a sample of the clay to Dr. Irving Selikoff at the Mount Sinai Medical Center for evaluation. The test discovered 'in excess of 50 percent of asbestos' in the clay, Gelman said.

'We do know that when other people inhale asbestos, there's a risk subsequently of development of various kinds of cancer,' Selikoff said, adding it would take about 10 years for any possible effects to be detected.

'They're 7 years old,' Gelman said of his son and classmates. 'This is a scar upon them.'

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