Wednesday, January 23, 2013

... Who's The Most Non-Toxic Car Seat of Them All?







December 2016:  Thanks to numerous chemical conscious parents that have commented below and contacted me directly, I have written an updated post on this topic, since a new studyhas been released that tested 15 car seats for flame retardant chemicals.   To read the results,  read our blog post ' FLAME RETARDANTS CHEMICALS STILL USED IN ALL BUT ONE CAR SEAT BRAND TESTED (NEW STUDY) for more on this topic and feel free to comment or contact me directly!






This week I have been researching car seats. Living in New York City, without a car, we have been using a very basic car seat that the hospital gave us when my munchkin was born. However, since we have increasingly been renting cars and making day trips it is time for us to upgrade.





Car seats, as readers of my blog might remember, are infamous for being amongst the most toxic of childhood items, thanks mostly to the flame retardants and PVC ( plastic) used in their manufacturing. This weeks challenge? Find a safe car seat without any of these nasty chemicals.






Why do I want to avoid flame retardants and PVC in my munchkin's car seat?





To an extent it makes safety sense for a car seat to have flame retardants - in case of an accident you would want your munchkin to be protected from any fire that could break out. However, companies like Orbit Baby have found non- halogenated (i.e. not as toxic) fire retardants that can be used and are just as effective.






The main type of fire retardants we want to avoid are brominated and chlorinated flame retardants (BFRs & CFRs). These are mostly added to plastics and have been associated with thyroid problems, learning and memory impairment, decreased fertility, and behavioral changes.  




The other chemical you want to avoid is PVC ( polyvinyl chloride), which is widely used in plastics . PVC has been associated with decreased fertility, pre-term deliveries, and damage to the liver, testes, thyroid, ovaries, kidneys, and blood, among a long list of ailments.



Heat, unavoidable inside cars especially in summer, can break down these chemicals at a faster rate, possibly increase their toxicity. 

As with all chemical exposure, babies are most vulnerable since they are still developing and many spend many hours in their car seats. As first time moms quickly find out, being able to attatch an infant car seat to a stroller base without awakening a sleeping baby is priceless! 


(to read more on the dangers of flame retardants read our blog post ' Playing With Fire'

What car seats have the least chemicals in them?
(December 2016 UPDATE:  Thanks to numerous chemical conscious parents that have commented below and contacted me directly, I have written an updated post on this topic, since a new studyhas been released that tested 15 car seats for flame retardant chemicals.   To read the results,  read our blog post ' FLAME RETARDANTS CHEMICALS STILL USED IN ALL BUT ONE CAR SEAT BRAND TESTED (NEW STUDY) for more on this topic and feel free to comment or contact me directly!)



When choosing a car seat, safety should of course be your primary focus. Do your research and decide which makes most safety sense for your family. 

Once you have 2 or 3 final options, you might want to choose from the following companies who either do not include brominated flame retardants in their products or have vowed to phase them out.
  • Orbit Baby: by far the leader in non-toxic baby products, All Orbit Baby G2 products "use fabrics certified by the International Oeko-Tex® Association to be completely free of PBBs, PBDEs, TRIS, TEPA, HBCDD, SCCP, and TCEP. Most fabrics and foams require treatment with some flame retardants in order to meet federally mandated car seat requirements. Of our fabrics that have been treated, they contain non-toxic flame retardants" .   The down side?  Orbit Baby products are quite expensive.
  • Britax: the company vowed to phase out both brominated flame retardants and PVC by the end of 2012. I called the headquarters and they explained that to make sure your new car seat does not include these chemicals you should look at the manufacturing date, which can be found on the outside of the box... It needs to say January 2013 or later. 
  • Graco: During the summer of 2012 Graco committed to banning the use of four of the most toxic chemical flame retardants from all of their products. While the company has not disclosed what substitute chemicals they will use, it is still a great step in providing a healthier car seat without 4 of the most toxic fire retardants in use today ( plus it includes their car seats, strollers and swings!) .... Unfortunately they have not given a phase out date as of yet and thus there is still not way to make sure that your Graco product does not contain these 4 chemicals.  So stay tuned.....
For 2011 or older models , Healthystuff.org has super useful list of over 300 car seats (booster seats, infant seats and toddler car seats) that they tested for toxic chemicals. They then classify them by level of concern ( ' high' ' medium' or ' low' ) and allow you to click on any individual brand and model to find out what chemicals were found in that particular model. Another great source!


Happy travels !

December 2016:  Thanks to numerous chemical conscious parents that have commented below and contacted me directly, I have written an updated post on this topic, since a new studyhas been released that tested 15 car seats for flame retardant chemicals.   To read the results,  read our blog post ' FLAME RETARDANTS CHEMICALS STILL USED IN ALL BUT ONE CAR SEAT BRAND TESTED (NEW STUDY) for more on this topic and feel free to comment or contact me directly!


26 comments :

  1. Be aware -- Britax car seats still contain flame retardants. You may be interested to know that I've also called Britax about the phase-out of flame retardants, and unfortunately have received a few different responses. The first response I received was similar to the one you got -- check the manufactured date. A follow-up call yielded a second response -- the batch of Marathon 70 G3 seats should be sans flame retardants because they are a new generation of the seat, which didn't make sense to me because they started production of the G3s in June 2012. The third response (March 13, 2013) was the most frank discussion I had with a rep -- the company's prior commitment to phasing out brominated flame retardants could not be completed, and all car seats still contain brominated flame retardants. I asked for clarification multiple times from different angles and received the same answer. I even asked if the company had issued a press release with this information, and was informed they had not. Britax's lack of clarity on their "commitment" to eliminate flame retardants has created a false impression among parents that their car seats do not contain flame retardants -- I find it offensive and borderline fraudulent.

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    1. This is SO VERY frustrating. Thank you for following up and thank you for posting this. I will continue to call the company and post anything here!

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  2. I love that someone took the time to check up on this company..I am so fed up with being duped by the child product industry. God bless you for looking and letting us know the truth!

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  3. So I emailed Graco recently, and this is what they said:

    "As parents ourselves we do everything we can do to provide the safest and most innovative products possible. While as a juvenile products manufacturer we are subject to strict regulations including a requirement for products to be flame retardant, Graco continually monitors the treatments we use to ensure that they are best suited for the needs of users."

    I replied saying they weren't really answering my question about which car seats were less toxic. They replied:

    "All of our carseats use flame retardants as required by law. However, we continually make sure that the chemicals used in manufacturing our carseats are the safest available for the children that use the [sic]. THere is no Graco carseat that is less "toxic" than another."

    So frustrating.

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    1. SO frustrating - hopefully continual pressure from moms like you and me WILL make these companies make changes...... we just need to continue knocking on their door! Thanks for your input!

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  4. What about the Radian brand car seats? I have heard they are the safest as far as protection in the event of an accident, but I don't often see the brand mentioned on blogs.

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  5. I emailed Diono about the Radian seats and the company stated that their seats do not contain BPA, Phthalates, Chlorine or lead. There are also two brands (only) - the STORM and RUGBY that do not contain flame retardants since the seats are made with a micro-mesh velour that is flame retardant without the added chemical treatment process. The composition of the car seats is as follows:

    93% Polyppropylene (impact grade, co-polymer)
    5% EPS (expanded polystyrene)
    2% Aluminum

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    1. Where did you attain this information?

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    2. I believe the lack of FRs in the storm and rugby applies only to the fabric; the foam still contains FRs.

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    3. Please read our newest bog post (December 2016). Diono, Recaro and Nuna all tested positive for brominated flame retardants.

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  6. Does anyone have information about the Clek Foonf car seats?

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  7. The RadianR in storm and rugby sound great...but they are backed by memory foam, a petroleum based substance loaded with chemicals, typically. They make no mention of the treatment of the foam. Anyone know anything about this? Desperate for a new carseat..!!

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    1. The information that I have been able to find suggests that the foam continues to be chemically treated so as to be flame retardant.

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  8. Which one did you decide to go with (poster from 9/20/13?) I am between the Radian and the Clek Foonf...

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  9. I also received answers similar to the 1st posters comment on 3/14/13 from Britax. I did buy theirs because it was the safest I could find at the time when I needed to transfer to a bigger seat. I can tell you that when my daughter sweated in it this past summer, her head felt slimy (almost soapy) from the Britax car seat. I wonder if you wash the cover several times if it will be removed? I had a Graco infant seat; the lady from Graco said you could wash it and the flame retardants would come out. I have heard that it is somehow woven into the fabric, not "sprayed" on it (so to speak).

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  10. Wow...I am a frustrated dad. I wish these manufacturers understood that though it is important to make sure your child is safe in an accident, they sit in these seats for hours and hours on end. Accidents, though a common occurrence, are still the exception. These seats need to be safe to sit in for the many hours the child travels. It is appalling that they continue to manufacture seats filled to the rim with carcinogenic materials and than cannot be honest about it with their consumers about what is in the seats. It is also appalling that there seem to be no regulations forcing them to disclose the chemical make-up of their products, not un-like GMO's in the food world. How can we as parents, make the best decisions possible for our children?

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  11. Has anyone found any updated reports? I know HealthyStuff/org wasn't going to do a 2012 report but what about 2013?

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  12. I am only learning about these harmful chemicals when learning that they are in our couches and decided to do more research. I have owned and used a Britax since 2012 but after learning of all these chemicals want to purchase a new seat asap. As there been any updates on this issue... is there a non-toxic seat out there now?

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  13. http://www.healthystuff.org/product.details.php?bcmode=search&getrecno=10875

    Orbit car seats and stroller system ranked HIGH and MED in HealthyStuff's 2001 review of car seats. Beware! I believe people are getting over zealous because Orbit uses "fabrics certified by the International Oeko-Tex® Association to be completely free of PBBs, PBDEs, TRIS, TEPA, HBCDD, SCCP, and TCEP." This is only the fabrics. Apparently the other components are releasing Lead, Tin, and high levels of Bromine from their seats (HealthStuff.com 2011). Sorry for the bad news, but good to know before you overextend yourself on such high priced equipment.

    - Craig Miller

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  14. Make that 2011 not 2001 ...

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  16. THANK YOU TO ALL THE PARENTS WHO HAVE COMMENTED AND SHARED FEEDBACK.
    Thanks to your support here is an updated post with a little more information. Hope it helps!!

    http://www.nontoxicmunchkin.com/2014/02/chemical-conscious-parents-update-on.html

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  17. I asked Chicco if their car seats contain lead, chlorinated tris or other flame retardants. After bugging them for 2 weeks I just got the least helpful email answer ever from the "Car seat specialist" all the phone operators directed me to.

    She writes: "I do not have any additional information. Chicco does not disclose its formula as it is proprietary."

    Really?? Because somehow Chicco's competitors have found it reasonable to publicly disclose that they're not using these dangerous things: "
    As of January 2013, a number of car-seat companies have phased some toxic flame retardants out of their products. Graco has phased out Tris chemicals and Firemaster 550; Eddie Bauer, Cosco, and Safety 1st car seats are free of Tris compounds and brominated flame retardants; and Orbit Baby sells car seats and strollers without chlorinated or brominated flame retardants."

    (http://watoxics.org/healthy-living/healthy-families/growing-up-green/inflamed-about-toxic-flame-retardants)

    Disappointed that Chicco isn't living up to the same basic child safety standard.

    Anne F
    July 2014

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  18. http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/03/03/cancer-causing-chemicals-car-seats-violations-consumers/

    Please read about ORBIT!!!

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    1. Yes - this is quite an old post from 2013- new information in Orbit and all car seats have been included in the updated entries ( see link provided in red throughout this post!) thank you !!!

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