'Today we have reason to celebrate!' Graco cuts flame retardants in children's products

Action follows after 4,000 sign blogger's petition

Graco Children's Products Inc. has promised to monitor and ban hazardous flame retardants that have been used in children’s products, including cancer-causing Tris and Firemaster 550, in large part because of pressure from blogger Sara Snow (pictured here with her daughter).

Over the last few months, nearly 4,000 people signed a petition posted by Snow on Change.org asking Graco to eliminate its use of chemical flame retardants in their children’s products. Graco is one of the nation's largest children's product manufacturers, selling nearly 1 out of every 3 baby gear products purchased in the United States.

HealthyStuff.org, a program of the Ecology Center, and partner organization Healthy Child, Healthy World have been working with Sara to talk to Graco about their policies for the past few months.

Graco's announcement follows word earlier this year that Britax, the 4th largest manufacturer of children’s car seats, and Orbit Baby, would eliminate some chemical hazards in their products.  Orbit Baby was the first to market children’s car seats free of hazardous flame retardants and PVC, and on March 7, Britax reiterated their commitment to eliminate hazardous flame retardants that contain bromine or chlorine by the end of 2012.

"While we applaud Graco Children’s Products, Inc. for taking critically important steps to make their products safer for children, we challenge the company to become an industry leader by making healthier and safer products that no longer contain any hazardous flame retardants and implementing a system to assure safer-chemical or non-chemical alternatives are being used now and in the future," according to Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org, which has tested hundreds of popular car seats for toxic chemicals.

car seat"Thanks to thousands of supporters, we now know we no longer need to be concerned that Graco products contain four of the most toxic flame retardant chemicals, and that's a victory we should all savor," Gearhart said. "So while we applaud Graco's decision, we want to encourage them to take additional steps to make their products safer from chemical hazards."

The announcements from Orbit Baby and Britax show that it is possible to comply with government fire-safety standards and make a product that does not cause harm to children’s health, he noted.

While Graco has promised to eliminate some toxic chemicals, they haven't committed to phasing out brominated and chlorinated flame retardants, which have been associated with thyroid problems, learning and memory impairment, decreased fertility, and behavioral changes.  Although fire retardants in foam are necessary to meet certain fire-safety standards, non-halogenated fire retardants are available, and many have a better safety profile. 

"Car seats save lives.  It’s absolutely essential that parents put their children in them while driving, regardless of the rating a particular seat receives at HealthyStuff.org," said Gearhart.  "However, we are thrilled that parents will now have more choices that protect children in more ways than one."

EcoLink — July 2012
An online publication of the Ecology Center

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