Legal Action Calls on Company to Recall Car Seats Containing Toxic Flame Retardant Chemicals

Oakland, CA-The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) has initiated legal action against the car seat maker Orbit Baby, demanding that the company recall its car seats made with the toxic flame retardant chemical chlorinated Tris (Tris(1,3-dichloro-2-propyl)phosphate (TDCPP), also called Tris). Tris is listed as a chemical known to cause cancer under California’s Prop 65 consumer protection law.  The CEH legal action notes that Orbit’s advertising emphasized that its car seats were made without Tris or other toxic flame retardants, yet independent lab testing commissioned by CEH has found high levels of Tris in the company’s products.

Levels in the company’s car and infant seats were similar to those found in children’s products from other companies prior to their legal agreements with CEH calling for them to eliminate flame retardants. “In twenty years of exposing companies that mislead consumers, this is one of the most outrageous instances of corporate greenwashing that we have ever seen,” said CEH Executive Director Michael Green. “Orbit promised parents a safer car seat made without toxic flame retardants, yet sold them products that put children at risk of high exposures to a cancer-causing chemical. Orbit must take responsibility and recall these toxic car seats.”

Orbit sells high-end car seats, including car seat/stroller “travel systems” that can cost more than $1,500. Referring to brominated flame retardants (BFRs), the company’s advertising claimed that its car seats are “BFR-Free” and “…made without the use of toxic brominated and chlorinated chemicals.”

But independent testing shows that parents who relied on the company’s statements were not getting what they paid for. Tests on several Orbit car seats by CEH and others show that the foam-filling in Orbit car seats contained high levels of Tris, in violation of California law.

In news reports late last year, CBS News found that one retailer informed Orbit of the problem as early as the fall of 2014, yet the company continued to advertise products as flame retardant-free. In a follow-up report yesterday, CBS revealed “body burden” testing showing that high levels of flame retardants were found in one baby who was using an Orbit car seat – levels that decreased dramatically after the parents replaced the car seat.

CEH has reached legal agreements with dozens of companies that make children’s products and furniture, resulting in the companies ending their use of Tris and, in many cases, eliminating all flame retardants from their products. Along with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the International Association of Firefighters, CEH has urged federal regulators to ban flame retardant chemicals from all children’s products, including car seats.

The Center for Environmental Health has a 20-year track record of protecting children and families from harmful chemicals in our air, water, food and in dozens of every day products. CEH also works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices. In 2010, the San Francisco Business Times bestowed its annual “Green Champion” award to CEH for its work to improve health and the environment in the Bay Area and beyond.