ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The latest research on toxic chemicals in children's car seats was released today by the nonprofit Ecology Center at the consumer-friendly site, www.HealthyStuff.org. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of seats tested contained hazardous halogenated flame retardants and over half contained non-halogenated organophosphate flame retardants, some of which are hazardous as well. The study finds the hazardous flame retardant chemicals and alternatives used by companies are poorly regulated, putting consumers at risk, and questions the fire safety benefit of using these chemicals. Top rated companies in the study, Britax and Clek, have been aggressively implementing policies to reduce hazards in their products while still meeting all safety standards. The poorest performing company was Graco.
"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."
Fifteen (15), 2014-model car seats were tested for bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of chlorinated flame retardants when detected in a certain range of concentration); lead; and other heavy metals. Specific chemicals were also identified by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. These substances have been linked to thyroid problems, learning and memory impairment, decreased fertility, behavioral changes and cancer. Heat and UV-ray exposure in cars can accelerate the release of these chemicals from products into the vehicle environment. Many children spend hours in a car every week, or even every day, potentially exposing them to harmful flame retardants. Babies are the most vulnerable population in terms of exposure, since their bodily systems are still developing and they spend many hours in their car seats.
"This study reminds us that the lack regulation of chemicals in vehicles and vehicle components, like children's car seats, has resulted in vehicle interiors having some of the highest levels of hazardous chemicals including flame retardants," said Andy Igrejas, Director of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition. "Yet in the face of increased consumer vigilance and activism, industry has responded by trying to exempt itself from aspects of federal regulation on chemicals."
Overall Car Seat Ratings
Car seats were evaluated using a comparative rating methodology which evaluated a range of chemical hazards in the products.
Best 2014-15 Car Seats:
- Britax Frontier and Marathon (Convertible)
- Clek Foonf (Convertible)
Poorest 2014-15 Car Seats:
- Graco, My Size 65 (Convertible)
- Baby Trend, Hybrid 3-in-1 (Convertible)
Other brands with products tested include: Chicco, Cybex, Dorel Juvenile Group (Eddie Bauer, Safety First), Evenflo, Harmony Juvenile, Orbit Baby, Peg Perego.
For a complete list of car seat rankings and chemical test results visit www.HealthyStuff.org.
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