Many Baby Products Made with Toxic Flame Retardants

Heavy metals, dangerous components, a range of chemicals and toxins, and small parts that pose choking hazards have all been cited in a large array of baby toys and children’s product recalls. Now, USA Today reports that a new study reveals that a staggering 80 percent of all baby products contain <"">flame retardants that are either toxic or untested.

The new study, just released in Environmental Science & Technology, indicated that car seats, changing pads, and portable cribs were among the items tested, and that nursing pillows were also tested and found to contain a chemical never banned but removed from children’s pajamas in the 1970s over cancer concerns, said USA Today.

Chlorinated tris is raising what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) described as a “moderate level of concern” over cancer links and issues with developmental, reproductive, and other health issues, said USA Today. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) spokesman, Scott Wolfson, said that tris “may pose a significant health risk,” quoted USA Today.

The flame retardant, TCEP—which is listed as a carcinogen by the state of California—was also discovered in 10 of the nursing pillows tested.

According to Sonya Lunder, a scientist at the Environmental Working Group (EWG), toddlers have tested with flame retardant levels that are a shocking three times greater than adults tested, said USA Today. The elevated levels are likely due to the amount of time children spend on the floor, where the chemicals can end up—mostly in dust—and that children often suck on their fingers, said the study. Apparently, flame retardants are found in the bodies of most—90 percent—Americans, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

USA Today explained that the toxins are a cheap way in which manufacturers in California are able to comply with that state’s stringent fire safety rules, according to Lunder. Representing a huge market, other manufacturers have followed suit and have mimicked California’s practices, which also do not mandate labeling of products containing the chemicals, noted USA Today.

Not surprisingly, industry disagrees with the various agencies concerns. “Flame retardants are well-studied and provide important fire safety benefits in homes, cars and public areas,” the American Chemistry Council said in a statement, quoted USA Today.

We recently wrote that household dust and food might be responsible for very high levels of another toxic flame retardant chemical in California children. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) were found in high levels, according to a recent study by the University of California, Berkeley. “The chemical essentially just evaporates and comes out of your household furniture and your household plastics and so it’s actually dust exposure to children that’s causing these high levels,” said David Andrews, PhD, a chemist and senior scientist with EWG, quoted WebMD.

PBDEs can harm neurodevelopment, lower thyroid hormones, and change sex hormone levels, according to animal studies. They can also leach into the environment and be stored in fat cells. Pediatric studies have linked PBDEs to issues with brain development, learning, attention, and behavior; adults with high PBDE levels have experienced difficulty conceiving, menstrual cycle issues, lowered sperm counts, and thyroid hormone alterations, explained WebMD. Earlier this year we wrote that a report published in Environmental Health Perspectives, also by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, found that PBDEs could impact female fertility, rendering women 30 to 50 percent less likely to conceive in any given month versus women with lower levels.

Dust containing PBDEs has been found in homes, and studies have found that 97 percent of Americans have detectable PBDE levels in their blood.

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