One of the few things we can do to protect our children against the world's uncertainties seems to be buckling them correctly into a carseat or booster seat. For the critical years of their early lives, we show how much we care through this mundane routine of adjusting and clicking, protecting in the case of a motor vehicle accident. Did you know that many of us purchasing safety devices like this might be unknowingly exposing our kids to a secondary danger from the flame retardants in the seats? Of course, in our household we'll keep using our safety seats because of obvious safety reasons, most state laws, and our limited budget. But a recent report from a parent-run consumer group in Washington state adds to my frustration about whether manufacturers really care about both the safety and long-term health of our kids.
Erika Schreder is Science Director of the Washington Toxics Coalition
,which recently found unsafe levels of a potentially cancer causing flame retardant in carseats and other children's products. She says, "Unfortunately, we don't have laws to make sure that companies don't use toxic chemicals."
The substance called chlorinated Tris or TDCPP was used for a while in children's pajamas in the 1970s and then removed when found to be what scientists call mutagenic. As a precaution, the substance was deemed unsafe for pajamas, yet it's back now in other products made specifically for children. It's now found in diaper changing pads and some nursing pillows. Apparently this resurgence in using the TDCPP came after another flame retardant was banned in some states because of health concerns about it. And no, the sellers are not required to reveal all of the chemicals used in these products that might be in your nursery.
The Washington state group is using science to make the case for a law protecting children in that state, holding manufactures accountable for using a safer alternative to chlorinated Tris. This, as the nationwide effort for the Safe Chemicals Act is still on the minds of thousands of families across the country. As the coalition Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families
has pointed out, it's time for the United States to hold consumer safety to a higher standard the way several other countries around the world already do.
Schreder says the chlorinated Tris was found when testing the polyurethane foam in the children's products. You can check the labels to see if an item contains the foam or a potentially safer alternative like polyester. Apparently because toxins like chlorinated Tris shed into common household dust, frequent cleaning may also help protect against it. As both a scientist and a mother, Schreder thinks parent shouldn't have to worry so much about toxins in their children's products.