Good news and bad news about Graco children's car seats

Flame retardants found in popular consumer choice

We have good news and bad news about Graco children’s car seats.

The good news? Voters in a thoroughly unscientific poll conducted by the Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff program selected the Graco My Size 65 Convertible Car Seat as the brand they most wanted to see tested for toxic chemicals.

The bad news is that lab tests found two flame retardants in the Graco seat, one of which has been banned by the United Nations, and the other of which has been poorly studied and is unregulated. Click here for a full breakdown of methods and results.

The poll and the testing are part of HealthyStuff. org’s #ToxicFreeCarSeats campaign, which received more than $3,500 from 79 donors through an IndieGoGo fundraising drive to conduct the tests.

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. Toxic chemicals don’t belong in the products we rely on as families. And we are concerned that these chemical don't actually provide a fire safety benefit to children.”

HealthyStuff.org has tested hundreds of everyday products for the presence of toxic chemicals, mostly through the use of x-ray fluorescence (XRF) technology; the site features a user-friendly inventory of the products tested along with results. They plan to test a broad range of currently available car seats and release a full report in the next few months.

“We raised enough funds to allow us to test some of the top car seats on the market, but more important than what we raised is the support everyone gave and all the new connections we made with supporters,” Gearhart said. “Each contribution brings us closer to getting the best information on everyday products out there. We had 4,000 visits to the fundraising site, and we know car seat companies are changing the products and looking for safer alternatives.  All of these are positive signs.”

Gearhart emphasizes that parents should never transport children in a car without using an appropriate car seat properly installed, no matter what the test results show. “We always say that car seats are necessary, but toxic chemicals are not."
 

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

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