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Exploring Toxic Car Seats

Last week the media broke with frenzy after a new study released claimed 60% of children’s car seats tested by the Ecology Center this year contained at least one toxic chemical.  I wish that they would create a frenzy about the number of children dying in car accidents each year or how many have died this year (sadly 22) – but I guess these topics aren’t going to sell a newspaper…

Before you decide to  throw out your car seat - I thought I would add some perspective on the issue and point concerned parents to some of my colleagues in the child passenger safety world for some of their thoughts.

Of course, chemicals in any product can be a danger to children (and to adults) and we should work to make products that are safe foreveryone. However, the challenge in this case is that many of the chemicals tested in this study – bromine, lead, & chlorine – are found in many every day products because they are flame retardants. These products include crib mattresses, nursing pillows and many more – why do car seats always get picked on?

Another challenge is that the government requires car seat manufactuer’s to meet flamability standards – unfortunately these standards require the use of unhealthy chemicals. This is sure one tricky trade-off!

The other challenge with this study is that there is little to no evidence that these toxins can actually “seep” out of the seat and into children. The study merely tested for the presence of the chemicals and not actually how they might affect the end user. I always use caution when I read about studies like this because the full story may not be presented.

What can a parent do?

Continue to do your research! For more perspectives consider visiting The Car Seat Lady’s blog – she is a pediatrician and child passenger safety guru. Another good resource is the CarSeat.Org Blog – they also have some additional thoughts on the topic.  Both of these blogs are well respected in the child passenger safety community.

Consider writing your legislators and let them know that you want a safe environment for everyone – this can include modifying the flame retardant standards to reduce the amount of chemicals in all children’s products.

And last – but certainly not least – hold your children, play with them, give them tummy time - make sure they spend as little time as possible in car seats, cribs and other “containers.” Good old-fashioned play without all of the expensive gadgets out there is probably the best remedy!

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We have created this blog as a way to communicate key childrens' health and safety issues to parents and other child advocates. It is managed by Dayton Children's department of marketing communications. Comments can be sent to rodneyg@childrensdayton.org.

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