Are car seats toxic for your baby?

A new study announced last week cites that 80 percent of cushions used in car seats, portable cribs, and other baby furniture contain chemical flame retardants that can accumulate in babies’ bodies.

The US researchers tested 101 baby products that contain polyurethane foam, including car seats, changing tables, nursing pillows, high chairs, and strollers, with many of them containing a fire retardant known as TDCPP that has been linked to cancer in animal studies. The study did not disclose product names but US-based CBS News cites a couple of products by manufacturers Evenflo and Snuggly as being among those containing toxic chemicals.

A small percentage of the products also contained an illegal class of fire retardants called penta brominated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, which was phased out of use in most countries due to safety issues.

Another 2009 study found that TDCPP, banned from use in US children’s pajamas decades ago and no longer produced in Europe, is found in foam padding used in baby products and other household goods.

How can you protect your baby? Health and science website advises that parents avoid buying baby products that have polyurethane foam and a TB117 label. Or consider opting for safer fabrics and avoiding fire retardant products altogether. Opt instead for products made with down, wool, or cotton, which experts say are less likely to contain flame retardant chemicals.

Also the US-based green watchdog Green Science Policy Group advises to wash your hands frequently, since hand-to-mouth contact is a major path for exposure to flame retardants, lead, and pesticides, which are found in house dust as well. Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter and wet mop to control dust.

Access the study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es2007462

Read more tips on limiting exposure to chemicals in your household: http://greensciencepolicy.org/node/34

Watch a video on the topic: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/05/17/eveningnews/main20063756.shtml?tag=stack

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