Major Companies Making Safer Baby Products Without Toxic Flame Retardants

May 28, 2014

Naturepedic, Carters, Britax and other companies are making safer products, but other brands lag behind

Oakland, CA-The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) released a report card today to provide parents with information on the use of harmful flame retardant chemicals in national-brand baby products. The report card rates companies, including Carters, Naturepedic, Graco, Baby Bjorn, Fisher Price, Britax and 11 others, on their progress towards eliminating the use of flame retardant chemicals in their products. The report also rates companies on their transparency in making information about flame retardants in their products available to consumers.

This year, baby product companies have been able to make products without flame retardant chemicals for the first tine in decades, as new California flammability rules have come into effect. But until now, parents had no way to know which companies were offering new products made without the toxic chemicals, since few products are labeled.

“There is no reason that any baby products company should use harmful flame retardant chemicals that can contaminate children’s bodies,” said Judy Levin, CEH Pollution Prevention Co-Director. “Companies that have removed the flame retardant chemicals and labeled their products as flame retardant free are to be commended for their leadership.  We call upon all baby products companies to follow suit.”

For nearly four decades,  baby product companies were subject to a California flammability standard that promoted the use of toxic and ineffective flame retardant chemicals in their foam-filled products. Many flame retardants are linked with serious health problems including cancer, reduced IQ, developmental delays, obesity, and reproductive difficulties. These chemicals have also been found to leach from the products and into dust where they can be ingested or inhaled by children. Toddlers have been found to have 3 times higher levels of flame retardants in their bodies than their parents.

As of January 1, 2014, California’s new flammability standard, which gives companies ways to make fire-safe products without flame retardant chemicals, went into effect. Fifteen baby products are exempted from the standard, since regulators found these products do not pose any fire safety risk.

To develop the report card, CEH surveyed 17 baby product makers on their progress in eliminating the use of flame retardants and their policies on informing consumers about flame retardants in their products. The survey results showed that eight companies have eliminated flame retardants from their products, but just two, Naturepedic and MamaDoo Kids, are labeling products to inform consumers about the change. Eight other companies, including Fisher Price, Evenflo, The First Years(RC2) and Graco, did not respond to the survey despite repeated outreach efforts.

Under the recent regulation change, companies may avoid flame retardants but are not prohibited from using them in baby products. The current regulation also does not require that companies label their products. This has left consumers with no easy way to determine whether products are made with or without harmful flame retardant chemicals.  Now, parents can use the CEH report card to identify safer, flame retardant free products. CEH will continually update the report card as new information becomes available.

“Parents are walking into stores every day and saying ‘Please, no toxic chemicals for my baby.’  The fact is that more and more people are coming to the awareness that chemicals affect their health and their children’s health,” said Barry Cik, founder of Naturepedic. “We fully agree.  That’s why we created Naturepedic and that’s why we support organizations like the Center for Environmental Health and other organizations that promote positive changes in consumer products”.

The Center for Environmental Health has an eighteen-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.

-30-