Saturday, February 22, 2014

Chemical Conscious Parents UPDATE on Non-Toxic Car Seats

UPDATE: (in December 2016 a new study tested 15 car seats for flame retardant chemicals.   To read the results, and how this Uppababy model did, read our blog post ' FLAME RETARDANTS CHEMICALS STILL USED IN ALL BUT ONE CAR SEAT BRAND TESTED (NEW STUDY)

It sounded promising :  2 major car seat manufacturers ( Graco and Britax) promising to get rid of some of the most harmful flame retardants from their products. Parents everywhere sighed in relief:  finally at least one indispensable childhood item would be a little easier to buy.... but what has happened in the last 2 years?

(to read more about the chemicals we are talking about and why you want to avoid them read our post : Who's The Most Non-Toxic Car Seat of Them All? )

According to the Washington Toxic Coalition, in March of 2012 Graco disclosed to Washington State that it had indeed removed cancer causing flame retardant chlorinated Tris... however in its place Graco is now using TBBPA... another quite harmful chemical that has been shown to affect thyroid hormone activity.

Britax states on their website “As of January 1, 2013, BRITAX required all of its suppliers to eliminate certain chemical flame retardants containing bromine, chlorine or other halogens, from all components used in its car seats and all other products — while still ensuring their ability to pass federal government standards for flammability. BRITAX is pleased to report that all of its suppliers have confirmed they are compliant .... Strollers do not have flammability standards. Therefore, BRITAX and BOB strollers are not treated with any chemical flame retardants."

On one hand, the news is good; the chemicals that have been eliminated are really bad.... however the replacement chemicals (in the case of Graco TBBPA and in the case of Britax  they do not specify what chemicals, if any, are perhaps being used to replace the chemicals) are or could be a problem - which just goes to show how important changes in the US's laws are (but THAT is a whole other post).
As frustrating as this might be, I will say that I have had a Maxi Cosi and then Graco car seat for the last couple of years.  I live in NYC and hardly use a car so this is not an item that I am personally super concerned about as a source of major chemical exposure for my children   (although I did recently - just last weekend-  buy an Orbit G2 car seat... I know that it is chemical free plus it was 50% off and such a good deal).  What are you to do if  you spend a large part of your day inside your car?  Obviously, safety is the most important issue you should take into account when choosing a car seat, but perhaps if you have a small child/infant who sucks bits and parts of the car seat (like mine does when he can) then maybe you consider buying a safer, less toxic alternative - and the good news is that since my last post on this topic,  some new good options are available.  

Orbit Baby 
* 04/2015 UPDATE BELOW - They are no longer are recommended by Non-Toxic Munchkin as their car seats have been found to contain toxic flame retardants.
They have been producing top of the line chemical free products for years now.  Their car seats:

The fabrics used on all Orbit Baby G3 Toddler Convertible Car Seat, Black products adhere to limits or bans on nearly 200 potentially harmful chemicals (certified by Oeko-Tex® Standard 100).
All Orbit Baby G2 fabrics meet strict heavy metal limits (European standard EN71-3) on harmful elements: barium, lead, cadmium, antimony, selenium, chromium, mercury, and arsenic. Testing is conducted through independent, accredited laboratories.
All of our G2 products meet the requirements of Canada’s Hazardous Products Act, which regulates heavy metals as well as other toxic substances.
All of our products are compliant to CPSIA (HR4040) lead limits through recurring, independent, accredited lab tests and internal analysis (XRF).
All of our car seat fabrics and foams are tested at independent, accredited labs on a per production basis to ensure compliance to federal flammability standards as well as “below detection” limits on bromine

* 12/2016 update:  Diono has been found to contain brominated flame retardants.  please read our  blog post ' FLAME RETARDANTS CHEMICALS STILL USED IN ALL BUT ONE CAR SEAT BRAND TESTED (NEW STUDY)

* 04/2015 update below  The company has this to say “All Diono products (car seats, boosters and travel accessories) comply 

with US, European and Canadian regulations regarding toxic substances such as phthalates, bromides, bisphenol-A (BPA), cadmium and lead.... Our goal was to develop a fabric that required no additional FR treatment at all. To that end, we have already started down that path. Our new RadianR series seats will feature seats in colors called 'Storm' and 'Rugby' and these seats feature our new micro-mesh velour fabric that was made without requiring any additional flame retardant treatment at all”

Clek Foonf 2015 Convertible Car Seat, Shadow

*12/2016 update below

After contacting their customer service I was told the following "On all of our models, except for

Drift, we use Crypton fabric which is Green Guard Select Certified. The fabrics are free of all harmful chemicals including bromine.  We have reduced or eliminated formaldehyde, PFOAs and halogenated flame retardants, including PBDEs.  All Crypton Super Fabrics have ultra low or non-detectable emissions (VOCs).  Crypto resists bacteria, milde and odor to extend the life of the fabric without the use of conventional leaching anti-microbials.  "
Plus they come in fun colors and great sizes!

** December 2016 UPDATE:  P

Uppa Baby is said to be producing the first ever flame retardant free infant car seat.   you can read more details (sell date, model etc) in our blog post:   COMING SOON- THE FIRST FLAME RETARDANT FREE INFANT CAR SEAT

November 2015: In November 2015 we had the opportunity to talk to one of the US's leading experts on flame retardants; Dr. Heather Stapleton, lead researcher at the Duke University Superfund Research Center.   To read her answers to our questions (many of the questions were taken from questions I have received from this post and past posts), read out post titled  'Duke's Boss Lady of Flame Retardants: What To Do About Flame Retardants in Car Seats and Beyond'


  1. Does anyone know about the German made cybex Anton q?

  2. Your above info isn't quite accurate anymore. Orbit baby changed their foam company. So their 2015 G3 systems now have Tris in them And good luck getting anything by email, because they aren't addressing it. Britax has the same issue, they won't say what chemical they are using, but they are using one. Several owners sent samples to Duke to be tested and they came back positive, even though Britax and Orbit said they don't. Clek doesn't make an infant car seat, but they also don't say which chemical they are using, and yet still use it. One potential answer is to get a cheaper seat and have a custom padding made. It can be done, but voice the warranty. But it isn't enough these days to blog about this, we need to remove the flame retardant requirement as the unnecessary and dangerous law it is.

    1. It would be more dangerous to get custom padding made for a seat that the manufacturer did not make for the seat, causing the seat to possibly not work properly in an accident, than the small risk that it would be to expose the child to the chemicals in the seat.

  3. Thank you for this information- we are currently trying to contact the companies to hear what they have to say, although quick research is showing that indeed Orbit has changed their foam producer and it is

  4. No longer certified. This is why changing the laws are so so important. I hope to have a comprehensive update soon!

  5. Hi,

    Just wondering if you've had any further updates? We live in Australia and it's hard to find information down here. I would buy any seat from the US that has be shown to be FR free. Anything further on the CLEK brand? I've looked at their website and they look like pretty cool seats. I'd be keen to by one if they are shown to be safe.

    Thanks for all your work looking into this!!

  6. Hi! Yes there actually is a new study out - I have been travelling and havent been able to read it thoroughly but I can promise you I will post in the next 3 days and notify you here!
    Thanks for reading!

  7. Just to mention.. Nuna's car seat DOES have FR in it, per an inquiry into their company directly.
    "The Pipa FR category is ammonium polyphosphate family. Not sure if that helps, but that is what we have for the Pipa FR."

  8. Replies
    1. Hi Michayla!
      Thanks for reaching out, I just sent in a request asking if they were able to fully test the Clek models. I will make sure to publish any updates if there are any! Will let you know. Thanks

    2. Any news from Clek Aida?

    3. Hi! Want to make sure you read my response below! Thanks! Will keep you informed when I get even more info

  9. Hi Aida, Thanks for the great research!! People like you make a change :)
    I had the same question as you have any news by chance?

  10. Nust purchased the Clek as we needed something. Praying the results come back promising. Any word?

  11. Hi! Thanks for following up on this super frustrating topic. I want to make sure you have read the latest post :

    I contacted both Clek and the Ecology Center (the folks that have done the testing on the car seats). The Ecology Center is waiting for more funding to be able to do another batch of testing. In th meantime, it seems this is the latest info: "(9/2015 update: please note, according to Clek: "it is our line of Crypton fabrics which are free-from brominated and chlorinated flame retardants (all colours excluding the Drift model)". The company has stated that in 2015 they hope to offer all models completely free of brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, however no testing has been done for me to confirm this. In the meantime make sure you buy the Crypton fabric)

    1. Thanks so much for keeping us posted!

  12. Hi All,

    Do you know how toxic Besafe car seats are? I'm planning to get one and wondering if anyone here has more details. Thank you.

    1. Hi! I have not heard anything regarding flame retardants and Besafe carseats..... anyone else?

      I will reach out to the company and let you know what they say (although many companies say they do not use certain flame retardants and independent tests show they do :-( )

    2. Hi Aida,
      Thank you. I'm trying to decide between Besafe and Nuna. I might go for Nuna Rebl as I feel like they are greener. I know it's not possible to get a toxic-free car seat but I want to find the least toxic one.

    3. Hi Aida. Did BeSafe respond regarding their use of flame retardants?


    4. Hi!
      Not sure if you were also asking about the Nuna (see comment above) or if that was someone else.... the Nuna tested positive for brominated flame retardant chemicals (see our post on the latest study ). BeSafe has not responded so I sent another message to them ... They are based in the Netherlands I believe. I came across a study that says they tested 8.5 out of 10 for presence of chemicals like flame retardants and phthalates and lead.... but there were no specifics about what they found.... hopefully they will respond soon this time! Will update when I hear back from them!

  13. Hi, thanks for all the research. By any chance do you have any up dates or brands that are on the low list? I need to buy a new car seat for my toddler and will be moving an hour away from town in a few months.. :(

    1. Hi there! The latest updates are from Sept 2015 and you can read them here
      If you read through the comments you will see that the NUNA comes up ..... it has not been officially tested and published by anyone that I am aware off BUT I have heard that some mothers have independently had their NUNA's tested by Duke's Superfund and these have indeed come out negative for flame retardants. Unfortunatley Duke does not publish their results and brands tested - so there is no official record that I have seen.

      Beyond the Nuna, the three car seats that have been tested for flame retardants and came out "good" are the three mentioned in the blog post: two Britax models and the Clek model......
      Thanks for your comment- hope this helps! Let me know if yu have any other questions and good luck!