Thursday, December 12, 2019

2019: So Many New Car Seats Available Without Flame Retardant Chemicals!

Photo credit:  @kotuttle

Looking for a flame retardant free car seat? Finally after years of covering this topic I can say that you truly have a CHOICE.  

The Ecology Center, after 10 years of being the main independent source of chemical testing of car seats, today published a new report on the state of flame retardant chemicals in children’s car seats.  The main takeaway? Lots of progress.  Just 3 years ago in 2016, not a single toxic-free children’s car seat was available.   Today there are 16 toxic flame retardant-free car seat models available for purchase. 

Yes there is room for improvement in the market, but lots to celebrate too….

What's NEW in 2019

FIVE manufacturers have introduced a total of 16 FR-free children’s car seats.

1.  Clek:  Four of their car seat models are available in their Mammoth wool Flame retardant free fabric.   These are
 2. Nuna:  All of Nuna’s car seats EXCEPT their boosters, are now flame retardant chemical free

3. UPPAbaby’s Mesa car seats in Jordan and Henry models (infant) are flame retardant free.

4. Britax:  recently launched their Flame Retardant-free SafeWash™ fabric, which is now available on four seats. The SafeWash™ fabric is removable and washable, a design feature that allows families to keep seat covers clean without stain-resistant PFAS chemicals.
The Britax models that have the flame retardant free option are:
5. Maxi Cosi:  Now has two seats, an infant carrier and an all-in-one convertible, featuring their PureCosi wool-free fabric without flame retardant chemicals. This too has an easily removable and washable cover that avoids the need for stain-resistant chemicals (PFAS).  The 2 models without flame retardant (nor PFAS) chemicals are:

The Bad News
  • Cost:  All of these flame retardant free car seats currently are priced in the higher tier for car seats- most over $300.
  • Only two booster seats currently exist on the market without flame retardant chemicals:  from Clek and from Britax.  Both cost over $300.
  • Many well known companies, like industry giants, Graco and Evenflo and Chicco and more, are still not producing flame retardant chemical free car seats.  

*my Amazon store has most of these car seat models that are flame retardant free (Nuna does not sell on Amazon.  These are available at The Tot and at select retailers).  I receive a very small commission from any sales I make through my Amazon store- at no additional cost to you.  I am deeply grateful if you do decide to purchase through the link, as it allows me to continue growing my educational work here and in my Instagram community. Thank you

Background info 
As always, safety comes first and babies and children need to be placed in car seats, regardless of chemical exposure. Having said that, there are car seats on the market that will expose you children to significantly more toxic chemicals than others - so it is definitely worth doing your research (or reading this post!)
The law 
All car seats in the market right now in the US contain at least one chemical flame retardant in order to meet the federal fire test standard for vehicle accessories. Federal fire tests can be met by using wool - which is naturally a fire retardant - instead of chemicals. This is what Uppa Baby and Clek uses. 

Remind me-why is this important? How exactly can flame retardants chemicals in the car seat affect my child? 

The problem with flame retardant chemicals is that they do not stick/ bind very well to the product they are used on.... thus, they are released over time. Mostly into dust particles and air 


Heat and UV-ray exposure in cars can accelerate the release of these chemicals from products into the vehicle environment 

and then 

Infants, toddlers and children can be exposed to these chemicals through inhalation, ingestion and dermal (skin) absorption. 


The longer your child sits in his/ her car seat the more exposed they are to these chemicals 

So, how bad are flame retardant? Is there such a thing as a safer fire retardant? 

The short answer: flame retardants are pretty bad (they are known to be carcinogens, hormone disruptors and developmental toxicants. Babies are the most vulnerable population in terms of exposure to these chemical, since their systems are still developing) and we don't really know if there is such a thing a  safe one. 

Having said that there are 3 classes of flame retardant 

  • Brominated, (also called halogenated) are considered quite toxic and extremely persistence in the environment.
  • Chlorinated (also called halogenated) are considered quite toxic and extremely persistence in the environment.
  • Phosphate-based. These are the replacement chemicals du jour being used to replace the toxic halogenated flame retardants. Until recently, these replacements were thought to be safer for human health. However, studies are showing many of them to be strong endocrine disruptors and links to developmental toxicity

But, if these chemicals can save my child in a car fire- then isn't that more important? 

If the answer were yes, this debate would be quite different. The reality is that car fires move so fast that these fire retardants are no longer considered to be of any help retarding flames in real life scenarios

Bottom line?  There are now safer car seats available- if possible choose those for your little ones.

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