Of 377 child car seats tested, nearly three-quarters were found to contain toxic flame retardant chemicals, according to new research from the Ecology Center released Thursday.
The nonprofit environmental organization found that 73 percent of child car seats tested contained hazardous halogenated flame retardants and more than half contained non-halogenated organophosphate flame retardants, some of which are hazardous as well.
Fifteen 2014 models of car seats were also tested for bromine, which is associated with brominated flame retardants; chlorine, which indicates the presence of chlorinated flame retardants when detected in a certain range of concentration; lead and other heavy metals.
The Ecology Center said these substances have been linked to thyroid problems, learning and memory impairment, decreased fertility, behavioral changes and cancer.
Heat and UV-ray exposure in cars can accelerate the release of these chemicals from products into the vehicle environment.
“Many children spend hours in a car every week, or even every day, potentially exposing them to harmful flame retardants, the Ecology Center said. “Babies are the most vulnerable population in terms of exposure, since their bodily systems are still developing and they spend many hours in their car seats.”
The study included car seats from Britax, Clek and Graco.
Britax’s 2014-2015 Frontier and Marathon Convertible car seats and Clek’s Foonf convertible car seat were the best performing when evaluated using a comparative rating methodology, which tested a range of chemical hazards in the products.
Graco’s My Size 65 convertible car seat had the poorest rating. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.
“This study reminds us that the lack regulation of chemicals in vehicles and vehicle components, like children's car seats, has resulted in vehicle interiors having some of the highest levels of hazardous chemicals including flame retardants,” Andy Igrejas, campaign director of the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families coalition said in a news release. “Yet in the face of increased consumer vigilance and activism, industry has responded by trying to exempt itself from aspects of federal regulation on chemicals. ”
Lawmakers have been working to overhaul the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, which was created to give the Environmental Protection Agency the ability to regulate the nation’s most dangerous chemicals, but it is widely viewed as unenforceable.
On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee advanced a toxic chemical safety bill on a nearly unanimous vote to the House floor for a vote later this month.