Alarming Study Finds Car Seats Loaded With Toxins: Is Yours on the List?

car seat kid

The safety of car seats are often questioned, but we mostly talk about how safe they are in the event of an accident. There is more to it than that. A study has revealed that nearly 75 percent of car seats exceed toxicity levels that are acceptable for children. The details are concerning, but there are things we can do to protect our kids.


Chemicals are unfortunately found everywhere, but it's up to us as parents to limit exposure. And demand safer products. The chemicals found in many car seats are scary -- arsenic, bromine, chlorine, lead and other heavy metals -- many are flame retardants. An abundance of these toxins can harm our kids. Their little bodies are developing and more sensitive -- and these toxins can harm their nervous system, cause cancer, and disrupt hormones. So it's something we need to pay attention to and do something about. 

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The Ecology Center tested 15 different models of car seats -- all manufactured in 2014 -- to measure toxic elements. The "best" of the bunch -- considered the safest as far as toxins are concerned -- were the Britax Frontier and Marathon (Convertible) and Clek Foonf (Convertible). The ones with the worst rating, containing the most chemicals, were Graco, My Size 65 (Convertible) and Baby Trend, Hybrid 3-in-1 (Convertible).

Here is the full break-down from the Ecology study on car seats:

car seat ranking toxicity

Car seats remain a necessary way to keep our children safe while in the car. We have to use them -- and use them properly. It's up to us to demand safer seats from the manufacturers.

If your car seat isn't on the list, you can contact the manufacturer for details -- they should be transparent. Should. In fact, contacting the companies is something we should all do even if the seat we have for our kids is in the area of "lowest concern." We need stricter laws on the use of chemicals in this country -- we have to demand it from everyone. We moved mountains removing harmful BPA from bottles and cups. We can do this, too. We should question the use of highly toxic flame retardants -- they harm more than they protect. We have to make noise so the car seat manufacturers listen and provide us with safer options. As consumers, we have that power.

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Thankfully, many of those in power are attempting to make changes. The House Energy and Commerce Committee nearly unanimously voted on a new toxic chemical safety bill. There will be a vote in late June that could make safety rules stricter. It's about time this happens. Get with it, America!

In the meantime, there are things we can do to limit our kids' exposure. When you first purchase a car seat, let it air out, outside of all its packaging, for a few days before use. Avoid using your child's car seat as a bed for napping. You can also try to keep your car out of direct sunlight so the car seat doesn't heat up too much, which will make it emit more toxins. If possible, in warm weather, keep windows of car slightly open to circulate air and attempt to keep temperature inside from getting too hot. It's also important to vacuum seat often to remove any potentially harmful particles.

We should get as many parents as possible involved in making this change -- because our kids' health is all of our concern.

How did your child's car seat rank?


Image via Bradley Gordon/Flickr

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