Toxins in carseats is frustrating. As our toxins in babybottles, babyfood, and infant formula. This is a question of perceived risk versus actual risk or imagined versus real dangers. Read the related blog on this.
Are there real risks associated with the toxins found in carseats? According to research, the answer is yes. In large part because the chemicals in questions: lead, cadmium, chlorine, arsenic, bromine and mercury, are extremely dangerous to children at any level.
There are things that a parent can do. For instance, in reading through Healthy Sutff’s toxic carseat list many companies have carseats in both the best and worst categories because material choices and even color correlate to the amount of toxins. In that case a parent can choose a less toxic fabric and reduce exposure (often lighter colors rate better as do materials with fewer synthetics).
Here are a few other easy ways to limit the toxic exposure to chemicals in carseats
1. Don’t leave your child to sleep in her carseat when you aren’t in the car. We’ve all done it–used the carseat to nap your child, but now both the sleep experts and the health experts give us another reason not to do it. If you do it anyway, best to really make sure you have a carseat with the least amount of toxins.
2. Use cotton covers instead or over the carseat cover. Some of the high rates come from chemical flame retardants applied to the carseat material itself. 100% cotton or wool covers will offer natural flame retardant properties and somewhat limit the exposure to the chemicals in the materials.
3. The exposure concerns in baby seats are worse than in booster seats and similar because the baby spends more time in the seats and it is closer to the baby’s mouth, so plan accordingly.
4. Buy carseats new that rate better and that use less material. Check out this crazy, new, addition to the marketplace that is a carseat without an actual seat: http://www.safetrafficsystem.com/ This wasn’t reviewed on the toxic carseat list but I bet it fares much better as it doesn’t have the bulky plastic parts nor the foam or material covering of a traditional carseat. See this related blog for more information.
5. Consider getting a hand-me-down carseat from a TRUSTED source. Check expiration dates. Make sure you know, for sure, the carseat has never been in an accident. For some of the chemicals involved time can mean fewer chemical exposures. For some, however, time just makes things worse (like in foam). See this related blog for more information.
AND just to further depress everyone. Most carseats in the North America are NOT installed correctly according to the firefighter-based Safety Squad. (Yet, 95% of people THINK there carseats are installed correctly.) Which is particularly disturbing considering that the U.S. is “the most lenient country in the world that has a standard. We have more children dying in car crashes than any other country in the world,” says Bill Flinchbaugh of Colorado Children’s Automobile Safety Foundation.
Read more about carseats and the sad state of carseat recycling on these other green mama blogs.
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Article by Manda Aufochs Gillespie, The Green Mama. Photo from HealthyStuff.org.