Children can’t live and thrive in a plastic bubble environment. Germs exist in our world, as do chemicals and carcinogens. That is the sad reality. As parents, we do our best to protect our kids, but some things are out of our control. Take a scary new finding just released this week – 80 percent of baby products on the market contain untested or potentially toxic flame retardant chemicals.
That’s an astounding number – 80 percent of widely used baby products on the market contain harmful chemicals. These baby products include nursing pillows, car seats, changing pads, portable mattresses, rocking chairs, high chairs, sleep positioners, and strollers.
Potential Carcinogens (Cancer Causing) Chemicals in Baby Products
Researchers examined the polyurethane foam samples from 101 widely used baby products, and came to this astonishing conclusion – there are potentially toxic and dangerous flame retardants in 80 percent of the products. Among one of the chemicals they detected is penta brominated diphenyl ether (pentaBDE), which has been outlawed in 172 countries and in 12 U.S. states due to its potential health hazard. Two other cancer-causing substances, TCEP and TDCPP, were also found in the baby products.
What’s interesting about this new report is that 36 percent of the baby products tested contained chlorinated Tris – which is related to a flame retardant chemical (brominated Tris) that was removed from children’s pajamas over 30 years ago, due to concerns over its safety.
This new research study, which was published early this week in Environmental Science and Technology, didn’t mention any brand names. According to CBS News, a few products the researchers looked at include Evenflo car seats and the Snuggli baby carrier.
A buyer’s guide that was issued with this research study noted that four major brands (BabyLuxe Organic, Boppy, Orbit Baby, and Baby Bjorn) said their products met the flammability standards without the use of chemical flame retardants.
The researchers didn’t examined whether babies and young children absorbed the potentially harmful chemicals in the products. It’s just not just the cancer risk that concerns experts; it’s the potential for reproductive and neurological harm as well.
The question remains: why do baby products need chemicals in the first place?
What are Flame Retardants and Why are They Used?
Flame retardant chemicals are used in products to reduce the risk of polyurethane foam (which is used in a wide variety of baby products) catching on fire and to slow the rate that a fire will burn the product. In previous studies, flame-retardant chemicals have been linked to causing cancer, reproductive and thyroid issues, and other health problems.
Should Parents Be Worried?
The Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association says no. They claim that all baby and nursery products that are sold in the United States meet “tough federal safety standards” including flammability requirements.
Dr. Heather M. Stapleton, one of the study’s authors and an assistant professor of environmental chemistry at Duke University, told the New York Times that the current federal oversight of chemicals is rather weak, so baby product manufacturers aren’t required to label products with flame retardant chemicals, nor are they forced to list what chemicals are used in the products.
According to Sonya Lunder, a researcher with the Environmental Working Group, toddlers have high levels of flame retardant chemicals in their bodies – three times more than adult has. This is due to how much time these kids spend on the floor and because they often put their fingers in their mouth.
The CDC reports that flame retardants are in the bodies of 90 percent of the American population. With the high number of cancer diagnoses, this is a scary reality for many of us.