February 9, 2013
Sometimes things are so disturbing, we have to revisit them just to ensure our readers heard. An estimated 80% of baby products tested contain toxic or untested chemical flame retardants, according to a study conducted just a couple years ago. These flame retardants, some of them identified as carcinogenic, are found in children’s cribs, changing pads, car seats and more.
According to the study released two years ago and published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, children are being exposed to chemicals that are proven unsafe. One of those chemicals, called chlorinated tris, was removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s because of concerns that it caused cancer. But it wasn’t banned, so we are now finding it in many other baby products.
The EPA says there is a “moderate level of concern” in regards to tris being linked to reproductive issues, cancer, and even developmental problems. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says tris “may pose a significant health risk.” But, we find it in countless children’s products.
According to the Environmental Working Group, children have three times the level of flame retardants in their bodies when compared with adults. This is largely because kids spend time on the carpet, among the dust, and often put their fingers in their mouths.
About 90% of Americans have flame retardants in their body.
Recent research has found that children exposed to these chemicals have a greater chance of neurodevelopmental delays—even if they are only exposed while in the womb. The children with mothers who were exposed to the most flame retardant chemicals while pregnant scored lower on IQ tests and evaluations for motor skills and attention spans.
So, why is the industry using all of these chemical? One reason is to comply with the laws of California. California represents such a large market, that many manufacturers make all of their products to comply with the strict fire safety standards of that state.
California, for its part, has backed off a bit, exempting some baby products from their required fire safety standards. The brands BabyLuxe Organic, Baby Bjorn, Orbit Baby and Boppy say they meet California standards without using chemical flame retardants.
Unfortunately, companies aren’t required to label their products with what flame retardants they used—another instance of the industry overlooking the harm to consumer health in favor of the all mighty dollar.