Yes, car seats are designed to keep our children safe. But what if they also contain toxic flame retardants that can be harmful to their health? That’s the premise behind the Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff program, which recently released its fifth report on toxic chemicals in car seats. In 2013, I shared the latest report–but since then, a lot has changed.
Scientists tested 15 different brands of car seats for toxic chemicals such as:
Bromine, a hallmark of brominated flame retardants, which have been linked to neurological and reproductive problems, among other health issues.
Chlorine, which is associated with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) that contains phthalates. Even low levels of phthalates have been linked to birth defects, obesity and asthma.
Lead, which is often added to plastic, paint and metal. Lead is a serious neurotoxin, causing learning and behavioral problems at low levels.
They found that 75% of the car seats contain flame retardant chemicals, which filter our of the products as they break down and build up in dust, which is of specific concern to parents of small children, who are more vulnerable to related health problems.
The worst offender was Graco, which surprised me as one of its models was previously a “best pick.” Baby Trend and Orbit Baby were also poor performers in the car seats study, while Britax and Clek showed most improvement. You can read the full report here.
In other flame retardant news, the Center for Environmental Health surveyed 20 office manufacturers and 37 home furniture manufacturers and found that 75% or more accurately label their products in terms of flame retardant content, for national distribution, as per SB 1019 the California law. You can research brands here.