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Toxic Chemicals Pervasive in Baby Products

New Study Finds Hazardous and Untested Flame Retardants in Products Made for Infants and Children

Read the study.

For immediate release:
May 18, 2011

Contact: Cassidy Randall, cassidyr@womensvoices.org, (406) 543-3747

Missoula, MT—A study of products designed for newborns, babies, and toddlers found that 80% of products tested contained chemical flame retardants linked to cancer and reproductive and developmental harm, according to a peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Science & Technology Journal.  Other retardants discovered had so little health and safety data that it is impossible to know their possible health effects at this time. These same flame retardants are showing up in children’s bodies, in food, and are widely dispersed throughout the environment.

The new study analyzed 101 products for the presence of halogenated flame retardants.  Interior foam samples were tested from nursing pillows, baby carriers, car seats, changing table pads, high chairs, strollers, bassinets, portable cribs, walkers, changing pads, baby carriers, sleeping wedges, baby tub insert, bath slings, glider rockers, and other essential child care items. Samples were submitted from purchase locations around the United States.

In some of the most shocking results, the study found that four products contained penta-BDE, a substance so toxic it is banned in 172 countries and 12 U.S. states, and subject to a national phase-out. 29 products contained chlorinated Tris, a possible human carcinogen that was removed from children’s pajamas over health concerns in the late 1970s.

“Toxic or untested flame retardants like the ones found in this study can migrate out of products and end up in our homes and our bodies.  These chemicals are associated with adverse human health effects including reduced IQ, increased time to pregnancy, endocrine and thyroid disruption, and impaired child development,” says Arlene Blum, PhD, a co-author of the study and executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute.

“The bottom line is that we can’t afford to have toxic chemicals like these showing up in baby products,” said Alexandra Scranton, director of science and research at Women’s Voices for the Earth, a national environmental health organization. “Babies are so vulnerable to even small exposures to toxic chemicals, because it is such a critical time in the development of their bodies.”

Women’s Voices for the Earth is advocating for passage of the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, legislation that would upgrade the nation’s outdated system for managing chemical safety. The Act responds to increasingly forceful warnings from scientific and medical experts—including the study on toxic flame retardants published today—that current policies have failed to curtail common chemicals linked to diseases such as cancer, developmental problems, endometriosis, infertility, and more. It would require that chemicals be evaluated for safety for the most vulnerable populations, including children and pregnant women.

According to Environmental Health News, researchers have found that U.S. adults have 20 times more of the flame retardant chemicals in their bodies than Europeans, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention report that over 90% of the U.S. population carries PBDE flame retardants in their bodies.

“The Safe Chemicals Act would protect children and families by ensuring the safety of chemicals before they are put in the products we use every day,” said Scranton. “We deserve to know that products our children play with, sleep on, and put in their mouths, are safe.”

Women’s Voices for the Earth is a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that impact women’s health by changing consumer behaviors, corporate practices and government policies. More information available at womensvoices.org.

Identification of Flame Retardants in Polyurethane Foam Collected from Baby Products, Environmental Science & Technology Journal on-line, May 18,2011.

“Toxic Chemicals in Baby Products” and fact sheets on specific chemicals and other studies: The Alliance for Toxic-Free Fire Safety, http://www.toxicfreefiresafety.com


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