TDCPP was a flame retardant used in children’s pajamas in the 1970s until it was eliminated from that use due to adverse health effects. Now, TDCPP is a widely used flame retardant added to polyurethane foam in furniture and baby products. According to a 2011 study looking at the presence of various flame retardants in baby products, TDCPP was the most common additive.
Many furniture and baby product manufacturers integrate flame retardants into their products because of flammability standards at the state and federal level, often specifically to meet California’s strict standards. TDCPP is one of the many compounds used for this purpose. Over time, TDCPP escapes from the foam and mixes with dust in our homes. The dust lands on household surfaces, including toys and food, and some of it is ingested. Young children are the most likely to be exposed because of their tendency to put toys and their hands into their mouths.
Baby products containing TDCPP:
- Nursing pillows
- Changing table pads
- Car seats
- Baby carriers
- High chair pads
TDCPP has been found to cause negative health impacts in animals, including increased cancer rates, DNA mutations, and reproductive effects. TDCPP has been listed as a known carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65, and a Consumer Product Safety Commission assessment concluded that it increases cancer risk. In humans, men with higher levels of household TDCPP had lower sperm counts and altered hormone levels.
Some manufacturers use naturally fire-retardant materials, non-chemical flame retardancy measures such as barriers, or use least-toxic chemicals. Government agencies should allow only the least toxic chemicals to be used, and adopt sensible flammability standards.
The easiest way to reduce exposure to TDCPP is to avoid furniture and baby products with polyurethane foam, and seek alternatives containing cotton, wool or polyester. For products that do contain foam, ask the manufacturer whether it contains added flame retardants such as TDCPP.
The following brands do not use TDCPP:
- Baby Bjorn
- Baby Luxe Organic
- Orbit Baby