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New study reveals toxic chemicals in most children's car seats

Toxic flame retardant chemicals in car seats can cause negative health effects

Toxic flame retardant chemicals used in children's car seats can harm major systems in the body, including the hormone, developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune systems.
Toxic flame retardant chemicals used in children's car seats can harm major systems in the body, including the hormone, developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune systems. (© Brandpoint)

DETROIT – Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff program released test results and product ratings Monday in its new 2018 report, Hidden Hazards: Flame Retardants and PFAS in Children’s Car Seats.

The Ecology Center has been tracking changes in toxic chemical additives of popular car seat brands since 2006.

The center collaborated with researchers from Indiana University and the University of Notre Dame to incorporate detailed analytical results into the Healthy Stuff report as well as for publication Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

The peer-reviewed letter is the first-ever report in scientific literature of the presence of a new flame retardant chemical in child car seats in North America.  

View car seat test results and rankings

Testing also confirmed that three companies now offer a car seat that does not contain added toxic flame retardant chemicals including Uppababy Mesa, Jordan and Henry models (infant); Clek Fllo, Mammoth (convertible); and Nuna Pipa Lite, Fog (infant).

Public health groups from across the country are united in a national effort to update the government’s decades-old flammability standards, by publicly calling for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to update its flammability standards in this Change.org petition, allowing more parents the ability to purchase toxin-free car seats.  

   Compared with Ecology Center’s 2016 report, this year’s study shows there are fewer car seats with brominated flame retardants than in previous years. However, there is an increase in the use of phosphorus-based flame retardants, including the newly reported cyclic phosphonate ester.

“The switch from brominated to phosphorus-based flame retardants isn’t necessarily a move to safer chemistry,” explained Gillian Miller, senior scientist at Ecology Center. “Several commonly used phosphorus-based flame retardants show significant endocrine and developmental toxicity and also are persistent in our environment.” 

Toxic flame retardant chemicals used in children’s car seats can harm major systems in the body, including the hormone, developmental, reproductive, neurological and immune systems.

These chemicals pose the greatest risk to babies while their organs are still developing (prenatal and postnatal).

Exposures to toxic flame retardants have been associated with an array of negative health effects including reduced IQ, developmental delays, autism, hormone disruption, reproductive harm, obesity and cancer.


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