The chemicals used in car seats to make them safer might actually be harmful to your child.
A study undertaken by the nonprofit Ecology Center and released on healthystuff.org shows that 73 percent of the 15 seats tested contain harmful halogenated flame retardants while over half the seats use non-halogenated organophosphate flame retardants, which can be harmful as well.
Specifically, the seats were tested for bromine, chlorine, lead and other heavy metals. These substances have been linked to thyroid problems, learning and memory impairment, decreased fertility, behavioral changes and cancer. Heat and UV-ray exposure can accelerate the release of these harmful chemicals into the car, where babies are at the highest risk of being affected.
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Since the flame retardant material is not bound to the car seat, it is susceptible to release over time. Toddlers can be exposed to the harmful chemicals through inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption.
“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.”
The best seats tested were the Britax Frontier and Marathon along with the Clek Foonf.
On the other end, the Graco My Size 65 and Baby Trend Hybrid 3-in-1 received the worst ratings. In fact, the Graco seats scored so poorly that Healthystuff.org has started a petition requesting that Graco discloses and phases out all hazardous flame retardant additives.
Other seats tested came from Chicco, Cybex, Dorel Juvenile Group (Eddie Bauer, Safety First), Evenflo, Harmony Juvenile, Orbit Baby and Peg Perego. To see all of the ratings for the 15 seats tested, click here.