Healthy Stuff

Healthy Stuff's mission is to research toxic chemicals found in everyday products.


Undisclosed PFAS coatings common on cookware, research shows

New findings from the Ecology Center on nonstick cookware show that despite growing concern about the toxicity of “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, most nonstick cooking pans and some baking pans are coated with a polymer form of PFAS called PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene). PTFE, best known by the brand name Teflon™, is typically made using several hazardous PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances) that have polluted drinking water across the globe.


An investigation of use and fate of PFAS treatment in children's car seats

The newly published peer-reviewed study, "Side-chain Fluorotelomer based Polymers in Children Car Seats" was published in the journal Environmental Pollution.  Half of the tested car seats (purchased in 2018) had PFAS-treated fabrics. The fabrics were treated with fluorotelomer-based polymers, a type of PFAS.  PFAS chemicals may migrate from fabric into sweat. Exposing the fabric samples to synthetic sweat caused PFAS chemicals to migrate, suggesting a potential dermal route of exposure.


New Study Indicates Toxic Chemicals Used in Take-out Food Packaging from Popular Food Chains

In a new report, the Ecology Center, the Mind the Store campaign, Toxic-Free Future, and its partners found that nearly half of all take-out food packaging tested from multiple popular food chains contains potentially toxic chemicals. The new investigation shows that all six food chains sampled had one or more food packaging items that likely contain toxic PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances)—chemicals known to threaten human health. Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) proposes state wide ban on use in Michigan.


The Mattress Still Matters: Protecting Babies and Toddlers from Toxic Chemicals While They Sleep

On July 21, 2020, together with the Getting Ready for Baby campaign, the Ecology Center released test results and findings in an extensive report examining crib mattresses for toxic chemicals and transparency. Getting Ready for Baby surveyed 37 crib mattress companies about the contents of 227 mattresses. We tested 13 crib mattresses for a wide array of chemicals and materials and compared test results to manufacturers’ claims.


Chemical Hazards from Recycled Plastic in Mardi Gras Beads: 2020 Update


New Report Finds Upward Trend in Toxic-Free Children's Car Seats

The Ecology Center today published a new report that finds an upward trend in toxic-free children’s car seats available for purchase between 2016 to 2019. In a three-year span, five major companies have released car seats that meet federal flammability standards without hazardous flame retardant chemicals.


Wolverine Worldwide Shoes PFAS Testing

Wolverine Worldwide—maker of shoe brands like Hush Puppies and Keds—continues to add per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to some adults’ and children’s shoes despite knowing the dangers.

Yoga Mats Testing

We tested 13 yoga mats to determine if their labels--especially those with eco-friendly claims--match their actual composition.


Take off the Toxic Gloves: An Investigation of Phthalates and Other Chemicals of Concern in Food Handling Gloves

We studied two streams of single-use disposable vinyl food handling gloves: those imported by distributors to sell and those actually in use at restaurants. In all, we found that 14% of gloves tested contained ortho-phthalates. Ortho-phthalates (abbreviated "phthalates") are a class of plasticizer chemicals used to make vinyl (polyvinyl chloride, or PVC) flexible. Phthalates and other plasticizers are not bound to the vinyl and can leach into the environment and food. 


Car Seat Survey Report Card 2019

The Healthy Stuff project is fundamentally about helping companies to change their product designs to produce healthier products that do not contain toxic chemicals. To create a healthier product, manufacturers use design to reduce or eliminate the impacts of hazardous chemicals throughout the lifecycle of a product. Companies can implement a chemical policy to help them achieve chemical safety in their supply chain and across the lifecycle of their products.


Vinyl Flooring Follow-Up Study

Our testing finds that home improvement retailers have followed through on their commitments to remove phthalates from flooring. A collaboration between the Ecology Center, Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, the Environmental Health Strategy Center and Healthy Building Network.



Testing Carpets for Toxics: Chemicals affecting human health and hindering the circular economy  

A new report by Ecology Center (EC), Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), and Changing Markets Foundation (CM) reveals the presence of toxic substances in all 12 of the carpets tested that were produced and sold by the nation’s six largest carpet manufacturers: Engineered Flooring (J+J), Interface, Milliken, Mohawk, Shaw and Tandus Centiva (Tarkett). Toxic chemicals detected have been linked to cancer, hormone disruption, respiratory disease, heart attacks, strokes, asthma, and immune and developmental health problems in children.

The landmark study is the first of its kind to test the nation’s leading carpet brands for specific toxic chemicals. The report also outlines proven strategies to better protect human health and the environment by designing healthier carpet, increasing product transparency, and enabling safer carpet recycling.

View report and samples


Hidden Hazards: Flame Retardants & PFAS in Children's Car Seats

On December 3, 2018 the Ecology Center released test results and product ratings in their 2018 report, Hidden Hazards: Flame Retardants & PFAS in Children's Car Seats. Testing and rating child car seats periodically since 2006, the Ecology Center has been tracking changes in hazardous chemical additives of popular car seat brands. Additionally, the authors of this report collaborated with researchers from Indiana University to publish detailed analytical results in the peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Science & Technology Letters, including the first-ever report in the scientific literature of the presence of a new flame retardant chemical in products in North America. 

Important note: Child car seats are mandatory safety devices that save lives. Regardless of any chemical concerns, parents should always properly install and use a children’s car seat.




More than you Bargained For: BPS and BPA in Receipts

Did you know store receipts are a major contributor to your body’s intake of the hormone-disrupting chemicals BPS and BPA? These chemicals are quickly and efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream through your skin.

To understand current use of these chemicals in receipt paper, Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff program tested 207 paper receipts from a wide variety of businesses. The samples included major grocers, big-box stores and retailers like Meijer, Kroger, and TJX stores, as well as gas stations, theaters, libraries, small and independent businesses, and many more.

Klean Up Kraft: Toxic Industrial Chemicals Found in Cheese Products

Laboratory testing, commissioned by the Ecology Center, of 10 varieties of macaroni and cheese products has revealed phthalates, a toxic hormone-disrupting class of chemicals, in the cheese powders of all the boxed macaroni and cheese tested.

We are calling on The Kraft Heinz Company—the dominant seller of boxed macaroni and cheese, with 76 percent of market share—to drive industry-wide change by eliminating any sources of phthalates that may end up in its cheese products. Detailed information and a public petition are available at

Data Summary
Lab Report
Fact Sheet on Published Literature

Online Press Release

Pets Beware: Toxic Chemicals in Pet Food Cans

In a citizen science study conducted by the Ecology Center's Healthy Stuff project, pet owners in Southeast Michigan sent 60 dog and cat food cans for identification of the resin linings.

The study found:

  • Almost all cat food cans tested (95%) had a polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-based coating
  • Most dog food cans (81%) had a bisphenol A (BPA)-based coating
  • Pet food cans overall had a higher frequency of both BPA-based and PVC-base coatings than human food cans. 

Car Seat Detox Challenge

It is high time that manufacturers remove toxic flame retardant additives from their product lines. It is simply unacceptable to continue using toxic chemicals to make products meant to provide safety to our most vulnerable population, our children. It's true; car seats save lives.  But, safety shouldn't come with a hidden chemical cost. That is why we are challenging car seat manufacturers to produce a car seat without adding flame retardants. UPPAbaby recently proved this can be done through their Mesa Henry infant seat, the first ever car seat manufactured without added flame retardants that still meet fire safety standards. We need both consumers and advocates to put the pressure on other manufacturers to follow UPPAbaby’s lead. We want toxic-free car seats! Sign the petition. 


Traveling with Toxics: Flame Retardants & Other Chemicals in Children's Car Seat

In this study, we analyzed flame retardants and other chemicals in fifteen infant and toddler car seats purchased in 2016, including two from the United Kingdom. The brands are BabyTrend, Britax, Chicco, Clek, Cosco, Diono, Evenflo, Graco (two models), Joie, Maxi-Cosi, Nuna, Orbit, Recaro, and Safety 1st. The seats represent a broad price range and about half were brands also tested by our team in 2014.

One company has answered our longtime call.  Uppababy unveiled a new car seat for 2017 specially designed to contain no added FRs. To our knowledge, the MESA Henry will be the first flame retardant-free car seat on the market, and its story and test results are included as a sidebar in this report.


Selected earlier reports


Healthy Stuff Reports

What’s worse than how the sausage gets made? How the pan gets made. New testing from the Ecology Center found that despite growing concern about the toxicity of “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, most nonstick cooking pans and some baking pans are coated with PTFE, a fluoropolymer made from PFAS (per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances). PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) is best known by the brand name Teflon™ and goes by several other brand names as well.  We tested 14 nonstick cooking pans and 10 nonstick baking pans to identify their coatings. We found the following:
The Ecology Center has analyzed children's car seats for a variety of chemical hazards for over ten years.  Recently, we began investigating the use and potential impact of PFAS in children's products, including car seats. The newly published peer-reviewed study, "Side-chain Fluorotelomer based Polymers in Children Car Seats" was published in the journal Environmental Pollution.  Highlights of the study include:
The Ecology Center teamed up with the Getting Ready for Baby (GRfB) campaign to get a clearer picture of the crib mattress market. GRfB scoured the Internet*, gathering information on 227 mattresses, and sent an extensive survey to crib mattress companies. The Ecology Center's Healthy Stuff lab tested the composition of 13 mattresses purchased in late 2018 and 2019.
IMPORTANT NOTE: ratings do not provide a measure of health risk or chemical exposure associated with any individual product, or any individual element or related chemical.