More than half of US car seats contain chemicals, report confirms

    “Parents shouldn’t have to strap their child into a car seat that exposes them to toxic chemicals.”

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    A new report found that more than half of the U.S. car seats tested contained toxic flame retardants or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The report, which was conducted by the Ecology Center, found that 12 of the 22 U.S. car seats had flame retardants and four of the 19 car seats tested likely contained PFAS.

    According to the press release, flame retardants were added to car seats in 1970 to meet flammability standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA), while PFAS are used for stain- or water-resistance.

    “Parents shouldn’t have to strap their child into a car seat that exposes them to toxic chemicals,” Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute, said. “Car seats are critical for child safety, which makes this health inequity especially problematic. It’s urgent that the Transportation Department update the ineffective standard that causes this problem.”

    The Center tested more than 600 components from 22 car seats in the U.S. and found that 55 percent contained flame retardants and 21 percent contained PFAS. The chemicals in flame retardants—phosphorus and bromine—have been linked to cancer, developmental problems, endocrine disruption and diabetes, The Guardian reported, while PFAS have been known to cause cancer, thyroid and liver ailments and immune suppression.

    Therefore, the Ecology Center sent a letter to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigeig backed by 40 manufacturers, public health groups and child safety organizations asking him to either, EcoWatch reported: 

    1. Exempt children’s car-seats from existing standards; and
    2. Create separate car-seat standards that are closer to children’s-product standards than vehicle-interior standards; or
    3. Replace the current open-flame standard with a smolder standard. 

    While the Center found that flame-retardant-free and PFAS- free car seats on the market had increased from eight to more than 40 models, it was impossible to find one without chemicals for under $100, the report confirmed.

    “These changes will allow manufacturers to produce safe, affordable car seats without the use of added toxic flame retardants. Affordable car seats should come without chemical costs to kids!”

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    Ashley is an editor, social media content manager and writer at NationofChange. Before joining NoC, she was a features reporter at The Daily Breeze – a local newspaper in Southern California – writing a variety of stories on current topics including politics, the economy, human rights, the environment and the arts. Ashley is a transplant from the East Coast calling Los Angeles home.

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