HIDDEN PASSENGERS: Chemical Hazards in Children's Car Seats
Fifteen car seats from 2014 representing twelve brands were tested for known flame retardant chemicals and heavy metals. Key findings are as follows:
Despite efforts by some companies, chemical flame retardants are still used to make car seats meet federal flammability regulations. Eleven out of fifteen (73%) seats contained halogenated flame retardants. Four seats contained one or both of the “chlorinated tris” chemicals TDCPP (a known carcinogen) and TCPP.
While one seat was analyzed for a more limited set of chemicals, the other fourteen seats were analyzed for a wide range of known flame retardant chemicals. Of these fourteen seats,
Five textile samples were analyzed; all contained brominated chemicals.
Some car seat companies are moving away from halogenated flame retardant chemicals and replacing these with phosphate-based chemicals. We support the efforts of companies to remove halogens, but we caution that some of the halogen-free phosphates may present significant health concerns as well and require more study.
The best approach is to redesign the product to eliminate the need for hazardous chemicals. Britax and Clek, for example, have implemented green engineering solutions that reduce the need for added flame retardants. We challenge car seat companies to develop seats without any added flame retardant chemicals. We also recommend that companies:
The federal fire test standard is demonstrably outdated and does not provide meaningful fire safety for vehicles in general or for children in car seats. For regulators, we recommend:
Consumer friendly product ratings, as well as a shorter overview and consumer guide, are available.