At Childsafetyblog.org, we had to take a step back when we heard this sound bite on yesterday’s news from several sources, including CNN’s Kyra Phillips. Toxic chemicals have been found in children’s car seats. We thought we must have misheard or the commentator must be mistaken. Toxic chemicals? Which chemicals and which car seats? Are the car seats being recalled?
A news station in Michigan (http://www.wtsp.com/news/health/article/204356/12/Study-60-of-car-seats-contain-toxic-chemicals ) reported today (again) that a study of car seats sold in Michigan revealed that 60 percent of the 150+ car seats tested contained toxic chemicals. “The Ecology Center tested over 150 infant, convertible, and booster car seats sold in Michigan and found that while some are virtually free of the most dangerous chemicals, others are saturated.”The chemicals apparently are related to flame retardants used in/on the car seats and include bromine, chlorine (in PVC), and other chemicals, whose toxic effects can be accelerated by heat (i.e., solar heat produced by sunlight coming through the car windows and windshield). “The study also found brominated flame retardant chemicals, that are either deemed toxic or lack adequate health safety data, in 44 percent of seats tested.”
According to the Ecology Center’s Michigan study “the most toxic car seats” are:
- Infant Seat: Graco Snugride 35 in Edgemont Red/Black & Graco SnugRide 30 in Asprey;
- Convertible Seat: Britax Marathon 70 in Jet Set & Britax Marathon in Platinum;
- Booster Seat: Recaro Pro Booster in Blue Opal & Recaro ProSPORT Toddler in Misty.
The Ecology Center reported the “least toxic car seats” are:
- Infant Seat: Chicco KeyFit 30 in Limonata, Graco Snugride 35 in Laguna Bay & Combi Shuttle 33 in Cranberry Noche;
- Convertible Seat: Graco Comfort Sport in Caleo, Graco MyRide 65 in Chandler and Streamer, Safety 1st OnSide Air in Clearwater, and Graco Nautilus Elite 3-in-1 in Gabe; and
- Booster Seat: Graco Turbo Booster in Anders.
HealthyStuff, a website that posts safety test results of children’s products says: “Overall, car seats are improving. Between 2008 and 2011:
- The average seat ranking improved by 64% (1.5 – 2009 to 0.9 – 2011);
- The number of car seats with BFRs declined by 18% (63% 2009 to 44% in 2011).” http://www.healthystuff.org/departments/childrens-products/about.findings.php
Yet some companies continue to use more potentially hazardous flame retardants in their products than others in the industry, and HealthyStuff says those are: Baby Trend (100%), Recaro (100%), and Britax (84%).
Given that because babies who are still growing are the most vulnerable population, and many babies and young children sit in car seats for long periods of time daily, we don’t understand why these products were either not tested for the presence of these chemicals-or if the manufacturers/ importers were aware, why they did not report the presence of these chemicals– prior to placing the car seats on the market. Thus, far, no recalls of the above-listed car seats have been announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission of the car seats listed above due to the findings of the Michigan study. It has been found since 2008 that toxic chemicals could be found in children’s car seats. HealthyStuff says overall, car seat manufacturers are “getting better about this”–and car seats are very important for child passenger safety. Childsafetyblog.org asks, “At what price?”
 Tampa Bay News Leader, WTSP.com an affiliate of CBS News, August 4, 2011.
 Op. Cit.