Seattle, WA –Popular baby products, including nursing pillows and car seats, contain toxic flame retardants linked to cancer, hormone disruption, and other health effects, according to a new report released today by the Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States. Children and families are exposed to the compounds, called Tris chemicals, when they escape from household items and contaminate house dust and indoor air.
“Parents shouldn’t have to worry about hidden toxic chemicals in their child’s nursing pillow or car seat. Unfortunately, our testing shows many items contain toxic flame retardants that aren’t good for children’s health,” said Erika Schreder, author of the report and science director for the Washington Toxics Coalition.
The report, Hidden Hazards In the Nursery, found toxic flame retardants in 85% (17 of 20) of new baby and children’s products tested, including bassinet pads, nursing pillows, changing pads, and car seats. The most prevalent flame retardant found was chlorinated Tris (TDCPP), a chemical voluntarily removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s when it was found to cause adverse health effects. Chlorinated Tris was present in 80% of the products (16 of 20). California recently classified chlorinated Tris as a carcinogen, and evidence links the chemical to neurotoxicity as well as hormone disruption.
Several children’s products did not contain Tris flame retardants, demonstrating it is possible to make products without Tris chemicals. Products that tested negative for Tris flame retardants were: Eddie Bauer Pop-up Booster Seat, Balboa Nursing Pillow, and First Years Co-Sleeper. Other companies that are known to not use Tris flame retardants include Boppy, Orbit Baby, and Baby Bjorn.
Children’s health advocates are calling on the Washington State Legislature to pass the Toxic-Free Kids Act (SB 6120 and HB 2266), which would ban the use of toxic Tris flame retardants in children’s products beginning July 1, 2014. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island) and Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-Seattle), also addresses the problem of substituting one harmful chemical for another by requiring makers of children’s products that contain Tris chemicals to conduct thorough health and safety assessments of potential alternatives. The Toxic-Free Kids Act is one of three priorities of Washington state’s Environmental Priorities Coalition.
“Toxic flame retardants have no business being in products we bring into our homes, especially in items for kids who are more vulnerable to chemical exposures. Makers of children’s products need to ensure their products do not contain chemicals that harm children’s health,” said Dr. Edward Cates, family practitioner from Olympia, Washington.
“I shouldn’t have to be a scientist to protect my children from toxic chemicals in things they use everyday. It’s frustrating to find out the products my kids use contain harmful chemicals and that the government allows it. Our state legislature needs to take action to get these chemicals out of products and make sure companies don’t just switch to something worse,” said Joellen Reineck Wilhelm, Olympia mother of a 4-year old.
List of products tested