Could a federally mandated traffic safety procedure be putting your child at risk for a different sort of danger? Independent research by consumer advocacy watchdog Ecology Center shows many children’s car seats are loaded with toxic chemicals that may be a risk to their long-term health! These same chemicals are being detected as accumulating in our bodies and in the outdoor environment.
Of course, traffic safety is important, and safety experts all agree children must use car seats. It’s also the law. The safety questions are about materials used to make the seats, and the types of flame retardant chemicals inside.
“Car seats save lives. It’s absolutely essential that parents put their children in them while driving, regardless of the rating a particular seat received at HealthyStuff.org,” said Jeff Gearhart, the Ecology Center’s Research Director. “However, our research shows that some car seats contain more harmful chemicals than others. The best rated companies in our study, Britax and Clek, have been making great strides to produce healthier products.”
Parents have a modern-day dilemma in choosing the best car safety seat their budget allows while trying to avoid toxic chemicals. The chemicals of concern used in car seats have links to neurological health, reproductive health and even cancer. The chemicals classified as halogenated flame retardants have been found to be especially persistent in the environment, and these include both brominated and chlorinated chemicals.
While the seats are a necessary part of vehicle safety, the Ecology Center recommends that parents not use car seats outside of cars, as this can unnecessarily increase children’s exposures to the chemicals of concern. The scientists also suggest avoiding too much heat inside the car as well as cleaning seat covers and vacuuming car dust to minimize exposure to chemicals that can migrate out of the seats.
You can check the guide at HealthyStuff.org to see how your specific car seat may have ranked in this most recent round of testing.
Parents are frustrated that even when car seat makers remove one toxic flame retardant, they could be replacing it with another questionable chemical. That’s why the need for toxic chemical safety reform is so critically needed in the United States, where manufacturers are often free to use chemicals that have not been proven safe, even in products for babies and toddlers.