Testing children's car seats is popular, but costly

Support sought for new round of tests for toxic chemicals

Children’s car seats are one of the products health-conscious parents are most concerned about, judging by traffic at HealthyStuff.org, the Ecology Center project that tests consumer goods for toxic chemicals.

“By far, the most popular product category that we’ve tested is children’s car seats,” according to Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center and coordinator of HealthyStuff.org. “Children’s car seats are an important product that our kids spend a lot of time in and we need to make sure they are healthy.


But testing the variety of children’s car seats on the market is an expensive project, requiring about $10,000, which is why HealthyStuff.org is soliciting contributions through the crowd-sourced fundraising site IndieGoGo. The funding will pay for the car seats, the testing, and the work done to provide results to consumers.

“Our goal is ambitious but I believe we can do it with help from those who have come to rely on the valuable information we provide,” Gearhart said. “Last time we did this testing we found all sorts of toxic chemicals in children's car seats. We are particularly concerned about the use of hazardous flame retardants in car seats, so, it's time to find out."

In 2011, HealthyStuff.org tested 150 children’s car seats and found that 60 percent contained at least one toxic chemical, including bromine, chlorine, lead, other heavy metals, and allergens.

“These substances have been linked to allergies, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer,” Gearhart said. “Heat and UV-ray exposure in cars can accelerate the breakdown of these chemicals and possibly increase their toxicity. Babies are the most vulnerable population in terms of exposure, since their bodily systems are still developing and they spend many hours in their car seats.”

Gearhart emphasized the parents must use car seats to protect their children no matter what brand they use.

“Car seats save lives. It’s absolutely essential that parents put their children in them while driving, regardless of the rating a particular seat received at HealthyStuff.org,” Gearhart said. “But our research shows that some car seats contain more harmful chemicals than others, and HealthyStuff.org makes it easier for parents to research the best car seat for their child.”

HealthyStuff.org also has comprehensive data on toxic chemicals in toys, cars, home improvement products and more.

To visit the IndieGoGo site, which includes a video showing why testing car seats is important and how your support can make a difference, click here.

EcoLink — June 2014 Ecolink
An online publication of the Ecology Center

Comments and questions are welcome.
Please send to EcoLink Editor.