I am an advocate, an educator and a mom. Above all I am a researcher. I spend hours, months and years researching what toxic chemicals are in our products and how to make safe choices. I contact companies over and over to make sure I am getting the same response about the chemicals in our products. I’m willing to spend extra to buy safe products (a lot extra). I ask the right questions, press and go to the top of the company.
Sadly I discovered it isn’t enough.
At Organic Baby University we uncovered and spread the news that even the companies that I have endorsed, companies that have promised us safer products, are selling the same toxic products as the other companies. Several months ago I, and many of my followers, received results from Duke University about the flame retardant chemicals found in our foams.
I was so excited to hear in March that Duke University was running a superfund to test toxic flame retardants and to find out which products contained toxic flame retardants. For 5 years I have had to trust that the companies told the truth when asked about the chemicals they used. Most refuse to answer and use words like “proprietary” , but there were a few that seemed to be doing the right thing. Orbitbaby claimed to have Oeko-tek certified fabrics and foams every time I had contacted them. I spoke with a higher up and was reassured that this was the case. I purchased an Orbitbaby on the spot because of that information and screamed from the hills that there was finally a less toxic car seat on the market. Not too long afterward, Diono made an announcement that they were making two of their seats, Storm and Rugby, without the use of any chemical flame retardants at all. What a health victory for moms and babies everywhere!
But don’t start the party yet.
Due to this testing, as parents we were finally empowered to find out what was truly in our foams. No more “proprietary”, no more run-arounds. Just black and white names of chemicals in our foams.
The tests came back. Bad. Both Orbitbaby and Diono had test results come back positive for TDCPP, or “tris”, a toxic flame retardant according to Duke University that “is a probable carcinogen and a developmental neurotoxicant, as well as an endocrine disruptor …” A natural latex mattress I purchased with organic cotton and wool tested for bromine. A “green” foam I purchased to recover my couches because it claimed to have no flame retardants from White Lotus Home tested positive for TDCPP.
As a mom I was furious. As a promoter of these products to my followers as safe, I was devastated. It was a lesson learned. As consumers we declare victory when a company such as Graco or Britax announces that they are removing all toxic flame retardants. But when we research further, we learn that they are removing halogenated FR and switching to other toxic chemicals.
This is what I learned
- Even companies that claim to try to do the right thing apparently still have no idea what is in their products, and until these chemicals are regulated because they are toxic at a federal level this will continue to happen
- Even when you research everything and spend more for non-toxic products, there is no guarantee that you are actually getting safe products.
As a parents and as a people it is time we demand better for our children. It is time to have chemicals proved safe before we use them on and around our children. This is common sense. I am an entrepreneur; I am not a regulation lover by any strength of the imagination. But there are times when it is the only way to protect our most vulnerable. Cigarettes, asbestos and DDT were times that required federal intervention and regulation. This is another.