Category Archives: Flame Retardants

Closed Facebook Group

I’ve just created a closed Facebook group as a way the Natural Baby Mama community can discuss non-toxic items.  Whether you are wanting to know what car seat to buy, questioning non-toxic baby items or items for you or your home, this is will be a great resource and open line of communication.  Please like the Natural Baby Mama Facebook page and join the closed group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/223493848003000/?hc_location=ufi.

I’m looking forward to interacting with you more in the closed group!

 

 
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A Safe BUT Non-Toxic Car Seat

UPDATE 4/8/14:  Recently Orbit has made some changes to their car seat and the Oeko-Tek certification.  They use to be the only car seat manufacturer to have both the fabric and foam Oeko-Tek certified.  They no longer use the same company for the foam.  I was told that the foam company went out of business.  Orbit will not disclose any information about what flame retardant is being used in their foam.  I read a report that a third party tested the foam and it contained brominated flame retardants.  Orbit still claims that they don’t use brominated flame retardants.  They will not give me any information about when this change was made.  I am sending a sample of the foam from my car seat away to get tested to find out what flame retardants they use.  Until we have more information I personally would not buy the Orbit.  I don’t have an answer about which one I would buy though.  I will update this as soon as I know more. 

 

4/30/14 –  I had the foam on my Orbit tested and the foam inside the fabric came back positive with TDCPP flame retardants.  The Stryofoam attached to the car seat came back showing no flame retardants.  I no longer recommend Orbit.  I will update more soon.

What is TDCPP?

TDCPP, or tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate, is an organophosphate flame retardant that is being used to replace PentaBDE. TDCPP, which is used as an additive flame retardant in resins, polymers, latexes, and foams, is most widely used in the US (annual estimations are 4,500-22,700 metric tons).1 There is evidence that TDCPP is a probable carcinogen and a developmental neurotoxicant2, as well as an endocrine disruptor in fish.

 

I have spent many of months agonizing over my son’s car seat.  I know that they have chemical flame retardants sprayed on the foam, the cover and the sun shade and it bugs the crap out of me each time I put him in the car seat.  It’s so, so bad for him.  Obviously, I’m aware that the car seat is keeping him safe and safety is my first priority which is why I keep using it.  I’ve gone back and forth and done tons of research trying to find the perfect car seat.  Here in the US there isn’t a car seat sold without the use of flame retardants (since it’s a federal law requiring it).  The thing I don’t understand is that wool and cotton are natural flame retardants – why don’t car seat manufacturers use those?

Before our son was born we went to a big box baby store and bought a car seat that rated well, and well frankly, we ended up buying the one with the fabric we liked the best.  We have the Chicco Keyfit 30 in Cubes.  As I was learning more about toxic items that my son was using when he was little I learned about how toxic a car seat can be.  I stumbled across the Environmental Work Group’s database and searched our car seat.  You can search your car seat here.  It ranked low for toxic chemicals which made me feel better.  Then of course I kept researching and realized that the EWG, while great, isn’t testing for everything.  Even though my car seat ranked “low” it actually just had a different chemical flame retardant used in it than what they were testing for.  When I looked up that chemical online I wanted to cry when reading the symptoms it can cause and the organs it affects.  So I began the search for the convertible car seat we would need to use since he was bigger.  I kept wanting to find one that didn’t use any chemicals which lead to many months of procrastinating.  This now makes me sad since my son continued to use his chemical filled car seat BUT we don’t even use the car seat daily (at least that is how I am rationalizing the continued use).  I also read that the sun shades are loaded with fire retardants so I took that off right away.  My search kept bringing me back to Orbit.  They are the ONLY car seat manufacturer to be Oeko-Tek 100 certified.  This means that they are the only car seat on the market in the US that tests for, and does not use, 100 toxic chemicals including most flame retardants and lead.  You can read more about Oeko-Tek 100 standards here.  You can also read more about Orbit’s safety here.

There has been a lot of talk about companies not using flame retardants in car seats anymore since so many parents are upset about it.  I’ve seen that Brittax is saying this (which from everything I’ve read is that they are using some of the worst chemical flame retardants still on their car seats).  From what I understand, they are NOT removing chemical flame retardants from their car seats but instead no longer will be using the chemicals they are currently using and will just be using new ones.  It’s a federal law to make sure the car seats are fire proof so the ONLY natural way around this is using wool and cotton.  There isn’t one company that is moving that direction, not even Orbit.

So what it comes down to is picking the least toxic car seat you can find with good safety ratings.  My choice for our convertible car seat is Orbit.  I know that they have to be tested according to Oeko-Tek and that makes me feel better.  I wish I had known all this information before our son was born and I would have started with the Orbit.  When you know better you do better.

If you want to go even a step further you can replace your car seat cover.  On Etsy The Sassy Stork makes some organic car seat covers.  She doesn’t have covers for every car seat brand.  This does remove the warranty on your car seat so if you are comfortable with that then go ahead.  Another option is Nollie Covers.  She has organic covers as well and does covers for most all brands of car seats.  They aren’t cheap but it may be worth it to you.  From what I understand using Nollie Covers doesn’t not void your warranty as she is the only car seat cover that is approved by the car seat companies.  I would verify this information before purchasing though.

A lot of people think that if they wash their car seat that will remove most of the chemicals which is not true.  The flame retardants are meant to stay in there and not be easily removed.  Using regular detergent will not remove the flame retardants.  I’ve read that using soap flakes can remove the flame retardants over time and many, many washes.  Using soap flakes is not recommended by car seat manufacturers and I believe it voids your warranty as well.  If you are trying to remove some of the chemicals that your baby is touching soap flakes may work.

UPDATE:  There are a lot of comments on this post related to Diono and if they use flame retardants in their car seats (fabric and foam).  They have told many commenters, and myself, repeatedly that they do not use flame retardants in the Radian car seat in several fabric colors.  I literally called Diono at least 10 times trying to get to the bottom of this but they kept saying that they didn’t use FR.  It came out today, months after they were telling us they didn’t, that they actually DO use flame retardants in their foam.  They won’t disclose which FR either.  So it is back to Orbit being the only non-toxic car seat on the market.

Good luck in finding a solution that works for you and your family!

PS – I decided I should have a disclaimer.  The disclaimer is this:  this is a decision you should make for  your family.  These opinions are my own.  I am not being paid to have these opinions.  You need to factor in the safety of any option that you choose.  I am not responsible for any decision you make with regards to which car seat you choose.

Here a flame retardant, there a flame retardant, everywhere a flame retardant!

My poor baby!  I realized that I have exposed him to way too many flame retardants in his little life.  I was buying products that I thought were good and little did I know that pretty much everything he was touching had flame retardants in it.

Some might say what is the big deal?  Well, studies have shown in animals that flame retardants cause those animals to be more anxious, have reproductive issues, gain more weight, and enter puberty early.   Other studies have shown that chemical flame retardants interfere with thyroid and sex hormones and in children can cause abnormal brain development, lower IQ and learning problems, behavior changes.  In adults, it has been linked to difficulties getting pregnant.  On a side note, I know quite a few people who are having to use fertility treatments to get pregnant.  Is this the environmental link we have all been wondering about??

Fire retardants are not only absorbed through your skin but inhaled.  They also accumulate in the dust on your floors then when you sweep or vacuum they can get in the air again.  Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is important.  Also mopping is a good alternative to sweeping.

Baby items I found in my home that have flame retardants:

– Arm’s Reach Co-Sleeper.  I reached out to the company and they said the newer models do not contain flame retardants.  You will have to check the tags under the mattress to find out for sure.

– Beco Gemini Organic Baby Carrier.  This made me really sad.  My first carrier smelled really toxic.  I let it air out for 4 months in our basement and it still smelled.  They exchanged it for me and I got a new one.  It still kinda smelled but not as bad.  I washed it and aired it out.  Finally I emailed the company and they confirmed that they use flame retardants in their carriers.  There is NO reason to do this.

– My Breastfriend Nursing Pillow

– Graco Pack N Play

– Chicco KeyFit 30 Car Seat.  I will blog about car seats later but most have flame retardants.  There are a few companies that don’t.

– Mattresses.  I will also blog about this later.  The most important purchase you can make based on the amount of time your baby spends sleeping.  You need to buy either Natropedic or LifeKind.

– My glider / rocker.  I bought a Dutailier glider / rocker.  The cushions have flame retardants.  I sold my glider and am borrowing a wood rocker from my dad that was my grandma’s.  I love the sentimental value of this rocker and I love that it doesn’t have any toxic chemicals.

– PJ’s.  CHECK the tags of your children’s PJ’s.  They should say that they must be tight-fitting since they are not flame resistant.  This only applies to PJ from 9 months to 14 years old.  Under 9 months it is not required that flame retardants be added to PJs.

– Your furniture.  Most likely all of it unless you have a couch or chair that was made before the mid 70’s.  Or if you have a wood piece of furniture.  It doesn’t matter if you bought a piece that said it was made with eco fibers, like soy, it still has fire retardants it in.

How to tell which pieces have flame retardants:

– Check ALL the tags.  If it says it complies with Technical Bulletin 117 then most likely it has flame retardants (especially if it is made with polyurethane).  I say most likely because most of the time it does.  There are a few exceptions though.  For example, Bobby does not use flame retardants but does have the complies with Technical Bulletin 117 tag.  I will do a post on baby products that are safe / don’t use fire retardants soon.

– PJ’s contain flame retardants unless it says otherwise.  If the PJ’s say, must be worn tight-fitting then you know that there are no flame retardants.

Why are flame retardants added to everything?

You can thank California.  Back in the 70’s they passed a bill to add flame retardants to furniture.  They also have a bill that requires baby items to have flame retardants for children under 3 years old.  Since California is so big most companies are not going to make two different products.  So they just make all their products with flame retardants.  There are many types of flame retardants.  Most of which have not been studied before being used on products.  Some have been banned and new ones have been developed.  One type of fire retardants (tris) was banned in children’s pj’s in the 70’s because it was realized how toxic it was.  However, this type of fire retardants is still used in furniture when spraying the foam.  Our children sit on our couches.  We sit on our couches.

Natural flame retardants:

Wool is a natural flame retardant.  Studies have shown that wool or cotton burns just as slowly, if not slower, than foam that is sprayed with chemical flame retardants.  It would be so nice if more furniture makers would make naturally flame retardant couches and chairs!

What to do?

I’ve slowly started changing out things I bought that had flame retardants in them.  I get to really know the products I am about to buy.  I email or call the companies directly to ask them about the chemicals they use.  I specifically ask about flame retardants before I buy.  I will always mention which products I have found that have chemicals in them so you don’t have to go through those steps.  If you use a product I haven’t mentioned I would give the company a call or send them an email.  I would love to hear about any other products you have found that have flame retardants.