Tag Archive for 'flame retardants'

Weekly Highlights (3/13/2012)

We hope you had a wonderful weekend. Welcome to this week’s highlights, our weekly post that recaps important child health and safety news, research, and recalls from the previous week and other great finds we’ve come across in our internet travels.  Enjoy!

- Jasmine

In the News:

Campbells Eliminating BPA in Soup CansCampbells has announced intentions to remove BPA from its soup cans, though no clear plan or timeline yet exists.

Arsenic Testing Proves Organic Baby Formula Safe - The test results are in on Nature’s One Baby Formulas independent testing, with results showing levels of arsenic below global standards for rice-based foods for infants. The company’s press release cites flawed methodologies in the Dartmouth study, but leaves more questions than answers about the reliability of testing for arsenic in food.

Rise in Preschool Cavities Prompts Anesthesia Use - Dentists nationwide are seeing more preschoolers at all income levels with 6 to 10 cavities or more, often resulting in the need for general anesthesia in order to undergo extensive procedures. Yikes!

Pink Slime for School Lunch: Govt Buying 7M Pounds Ammonia-Treated Meat - McDonalds and other fast food joints have halted use of ammonia-treated meat made from beef scraps and connective tissue, otherwise known as pink slime, yet the government continues to use it in school lunches as a cost-saving measure. While the ammonia treatment is supposed to curb e coli and salmonella contamination, it doesn’t appear to be all that effective. Why is this acceptable? Read more about pink slime here.

70% of Ground Beef at Supermarkets Contains Pink Slime – Guess what? It may be in your grocery store meat as well.

Britax, Orbit Baby Commit to Phase Out Toxic Chemicals in Children’s Car Seats - Both manufacturers commit to remove hazardous flame retardants and PVC from children’s car seats.

New Research:

Study Highlights Dangers in Everyday Products – Even the “Green” Ones
A first-of-its-kind peer reviewed study published last week reveals that both conventional and green products from household cleaners to personal care products contained a number of chemicals of concern that were not disclosed on the label. Over 200 products in 50 categories were tested for 66 chemicals associated with either endocrine disruption or asthma, and 55 of the 66 were found – even in so-called “green” products. Sunscreens and fragrance products had the most target chemicals and some of the highest concentrations. The study has been criticized for its methodologies, and the researchers admit that this is just a start but hope that it will provide a stimulus for conversation around toxic chemical sources and exposure.

Mom’s Weight Before Pregnancy Can Affect Baby’s Brain
A new study published in the journal Pediatrics found that preemies whose mothers were obese (with a BMI over 30) before pregnancy had double the risk of developing cognitive issues. The study involved 921 infants born before 28 weeks – the mothers gave placental biopsies immediately after birth and the babies’ neurological development was evaluated around age 2. It’s not entirely clear how obesity impacts baby’s development, but the leading theory is that the mother’s excessive weight can result in a heightened inflammatory response during pregnancy that adversely affects the baby’s brain.

Fantastic Finds:

Storing and Organizing Children’s Artwork from The Complete Guide to Imperfect HomemakingAbsolutely love these ideas for preserving the memories of your child’s artwork.  Definitely pinterest-worthy!


Since we’re on the subject of children’s artwork, here are some fantastic ideas for displaying your child’s masterpieces at home:

Look What I Did! Art Display from The Creative Crate

Kids’ Gallery Wall from Less -Than-Perfect Life of Bliss

Large Scale Art Wall from HGTV

Recalls, March 6 – March 13:

CPSC Child Product Recalls

Child Safety Seat Recalls

No child safety seat recall announcements this week.

USDA/FDA Recalls

If there’s anything you see and think we should feature, please send it to jasmine@purebebe.com.

Weekly Highlights (2/29/2012)

Happy Leap Day! Sorry for the delay this week, as I managed to land myself with crutches after a rough spill and a badly sprained ankle. Nevertheless, welcome to this week’s highlights, our weekly post that recaps important child health and safety news, research, and recalls from the previous week and other great finds we’ve come across in our internet travels. Enjoy!

- Jasmine

In the News:

Baby Born with Cancer is a Medical Mystery - In the rarest of medical occurrences, a baby was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma shortly after her birth. Earlier this month, her mother lost the battle with the same cancer that they believe she passed on to her baby in utero. Now baby Addison is fighting the cancer and being treated with an experimental FDA-approved medication approved only for her and not covered by insurance. To help the family with the cost of care, donations can be made to the “Cox Family” donation account at Arizona Federal Credit Union.  Account #826604.

Recall: Birth control pills Norgestimate and Ethinyl Estradiol—Tablets out of order - We wanted to bring to your attention another birth control pill recall - Generic birth control pills Norgestimate and Ethinyl Estradiol sold between September 21 and December 30, 2011.

California Bill Would End Use of Toxic Flame Retardants - A new bill was introduced Friday seeking to change the state’s outdated flame retardant standard. While the new bill doesn’t require the phasing out of toxic flame retardants, it does set a standard that most furniture items could pass without the use of toxic chemicals, and that is a step in the right direction.

I’ll Take a Sperm Test to Go: First DIY Male Fertility Test Now Available - Very few men get tested early on or at all in struggling couples, but now a new screening test approved by the FDA, SpermCheck, can assess sperm count with 98% accuracy in 10 minutes in the privacy of your own home.

CPSC Adopts New Federal Standard for Portable Bed Rails - Bed rails intended to keep children from rolling out of an adult bed have entrapped young children and killed infants. The CPSC has adopted a new standard requiring testing and improved warnings stating that rails should never be used with children under 2. Portable bed rails must also not create a dangerous gap with the mattress or contain hazardous edges or small parts.

New Research:

That New Car Smell is Toxic
That new car smell is actually the smell of chemicals off-gassing from interior auto parts like the steering wheel, dashboard, seats, and trim. It’s amazing how the smells we’ve been conditioned to associate with new and clean can be so toxic to our health. Over 275 different chemicals have been identified in vehicles interiors, including bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC and plasticizers); lead; and heavy metals. These chemicals have been linked to a variety of health problems such as allergies, birth defects, impaired learning, liver toxicity, and cancer.

Healthystuff.org has tested over 900 vehicles since 2006 for these chemicals, and in its latest release the 2012 Honda Civic topped its list as the least toxic whereas the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander was the organization’s worst pick. Some general observations to note: Honda has virtually eliminated PVC from its fleet, with 83% of 2011/12 models free of PVC. North American-produced vehicles lag behind Europe- and Asia-produced vehicles in PVC and brominated flame retardant use, as the U.S. has the weakest regulatory system for chemicals in consumer products and provides the fewest incentives. How does your car stack up?

Memo to Pediatricians: Screen All Kids for Vitamin D Deficiency, Test Those at High Risk
As numerous studies have shown the fundamental role of Vitamin D on health and disease, which often develop in childhood, pediatricians are recommending that children be screened for risk factors and tested when at high risk. The AAP recommends 400 IU daily for breastfed infants under one and 600 IU daily for toddlers. I give my girls, one of whom refuses to drink milk,  Carlson Labs Vitamin D supplement which comes in the form of liquid drops of vitamin D3 in fractionated coconut oil. It’s tasteless, so they don’t notice a few drops added to their water.

Kids Get More Added Sugar From Foods Than From Drinks
While soda is still the single largest source of added sugar in children’s diets, new government data shows that processed and packaged foods are the leading source in their diets with 63% of calories from added sugars consumed at home. “Soda consumption is high, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the added sugars in foods such as muffins, cookies, sugar-sweetened cereals and pasta sauces,” says Cynthia Ogden, senior author on the report and an epidemiologist with the National Center for Health Statistics.

Getting Kids to Eat Veggies Can Be Sticky Business
A recent study found that rewarding children with stickers increased their affinity for a previously disliked vegetable. In the study, 173 families were assigned to three different groups: one that rewarded tiny tastes with stickers, another that rewarded with praise, and a control group that used no special tactics. Over the course of 12 days, the researchers found that the children rewarded with stickers gave higher yum factor ratings to vegetables they’d previously disliked and the results seemed to last, whereas praise seemed to have little effect. While rewards can be controversial as may lead to an expectation of reward, the researchers suggest that it about 10 days was enough to change a child’s attitude toward the vegetable.

Fantastic Finds:

Solutions for Siblings from Positive Parenting - I’m fortunate that my children get along most days, but sometimes they and I need a little help diffusing a situation. This article provides some great ideas for minimizing sibling rivalry and creating an environment where children can feel safe, loved, and valued.

How to Delete Your Google Browsing History Before New Privacy Policy - Apparently, once Google’s new policy takes effect tomorrow, all data it has previously collected about you across Google, Gmail, YouTube, etc. will be unified and associated with your online identity including search data which can reveal particularly sensitive information. The EEF, a nonprofit org for online privacy, recommends that all Google users take steps to delete their web history.

Porn for Pregnant Ladies from Pregnant Chicken - Don’t worry, ladies. It’s safe for work. My personal favorite? Hugh Jackman on Pinterest. :)

Get Closer from YouTube -  An inspiring human message.

Recalls, February 22 – February 29:

CPSC Child Product Recalls

Child Safety Seat Recalls

No child safety seat recall announcements this week.

USDA/FDA Recalls

If there’s anything you see and think we should feature, please send it to jasmine@purebebe.com.

Weekly Highlights (1/23/2012)

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! My apologies for missing the highlights last week. January is a hectic month for me, so after work and family there hasn’t been much time left over. Because we missed last week, you’ll see a little more in this week’s highlights, our weekly post that recaps important child health and safety news, research, and recalls from the previous week and other great finds we’ve come across in our internet travels.


In the News:

Mom Claims in Viral Blog That Disabled Child Denied TransplantGiven patient confidentiality laws, it’s not possible to have the whole story, but I sincerely hope this child is able to get the kidney she will need. Heartbreaking.

FDA Halts Imports of Orange Juice: Is It Safe to Drink? - The FDA has halted all imports of orange juice after The Coca Cola Company, maker of Minute Maid and Simply Orange, notified that some Brazilian growers had sprayed their trees with a fungicide that is illegal in the U.S. The FDA is not issuing a recall citing no safety concerns over consumption at low levels, but they are now inspecting all imported juices.

A Specialists’ Debate on Autism Has Many Worried Observers - The standard reference manual for mental disorders is under revision, and many are worried that changes in the definition of autism, aspergers, and other disorders may limit or take away services available to those who currently qualify.

Connecticut Lawmakers Consider Ban on Flame Retardants in Baby Products  Citing a new report which found flame retardants in 17 of 20 baby products, Connecticut lawmakers consider ban.

LEGO Petitioned to Stop Gender-Based Marketing - After LEGO introduced a girlified version of LEGOs for girls featuring taller, skinnier, more accessory-friendly characters, backlash ensues with a petition to end gender-based marketing. My girls happily play with the standard LEGOs, as I’m sure do many others. This is the last thing our girls need. Sign the petition, if you like, here. The petition has reached almost 50,000.

New Research:

Babies Learn to Talk by Reading Lips
Ever noticed your baby studying your mouth when you speak? New research suggests that babies’ attention focuses on the mouth between about 6-12 months as they turn their attention to speech development in order to learn how to shape their lips and form sounds. Around the age of 1, their gaze comes back to the eyes, unless they are learning a foreign language in which case they will continue to focus on the mouth. Fascinating!

Parabens Found in 99% of Breast Cancer Tumors
A study of breast cancer tissue samples taken from 40 women undergoing mastectomies between 2005 and 2008 in England found that 99% of the samples contained at least one paraben and 60% of samples contained five. The study does not draw conclusions about cause and effect but does highlight the need for further study.

Plasticizer (Phthalate) Increases Miscarriage Risk
In the first study to examine phthalate exposure and miscarriage in humans, scientists in Denmark found that women exposed near the time of conception to relatively common levels of a particular phthalate are more likely to experience early miscarriage compared to women with lower exposures. Only exposures around conception, and not in the prior month, were linked to miscarriage. Couples attempting to get pregnant between 1992 and 1994 contributed urine samples, and scientists tested samples taken shortly before ovulation for phthalate levels and after ovulation for confirmed pregnancies and losses. The samples were tested in 2009?? Regardless, further research is necessary to confirm the conclusions, but animal/rodent studies have shown similar associations.

Eating Mercury-Tainted Fish Affects Stress Hormones in Children
A new study of 100 children, aged 9 to 11, found that higher mercury levels in the children’s blood was significantly associated with lower cortisol levels. Cortisol is released in response to stress and is important for metabolism, immune responses, and blood pressure. Lower cortisol levels and responses can contribute to chronic stress. The children’s fish eating habits were monitored, and the fish eaters had almost three times higher the level of mercury of the non-fish eaters. Consider this guide to fish and mercury levels from the Natural Resources Defense Council for limiting your child’s mercury consumption.

Fantastic Finds:

Baby Sleep Positions from Howtobeadad.com – Too funny. Booby trap, H is for Hell, and Snow Angels are familiar territory in our home. How about you?

Friendly Fire from Momastery.com - I can’t get enough of Glennon Melton. She is one amazing woman, and I wish I could shout this message from the rooftops. Every woman should read this!

The Never Before Told, Super Secret Ingredient for Raising an Amazing Daughter from Lisa Kaplin at BuffaloGrovePatch - Be the woman you want your daughter to be. Well said.

Recalls, January 10 – January 22:

CPSC Child Product Recalls

Child Safety Seat Recalls

No child safety seat recall announcements this week.

USDA/FDA Recalls

If there’s anything you see and think we should feature, please send it our way to jasmine@purebebe.com. We hope your week is off to a great start!

XOXO, Jasmine & Heather

Weekly Highlights (10/18/2011)

Welcome to “Weekly Highlights”, our weekly post that recaps important child health and safety news, research, and recalls from the previous week and other great reads we’ve come across in our internet travels.

In the News:

Outrage in China After Toddler Run Over & Ignored - I can’t even watch the video included with the news story after the description I received from my husband. A small child was run over not once, but twice, by two separate vehicles in hit-and-runs and meanwhile passersby walked around her body. Fortunately for the child, a homeless woman comes to her aid, yet the child now lies in critical condition in the hospital. It’s absolutely horrifying, infuriating, and unfathomable.

Record Number of Booster Seats Earn Highest Rating from IIHS - A record 31 seats have been designated Best Bets this year, meaning that they position a seat belt on a typical 4 to 8 year old in just about any car. Notable this year – All five seats made by one manufacturer, Canadian-based Harmony Juvenile Products, made the Best Bet list as did an inflatable seat, the BubbleBum, marketed for vacations, car pools, and taxis.

Target commits to 100% sustainable, traceable fish by 2015 - Target is partnering with a nonprofit marine conservation group to identify and sell only sustainable, traceable fish by 2015. This will be no easy feat. I’m really excited to see them taking this step and hope it encourages other grocers to do the same.

Flame Retardant Added to California’s List of Cancer Causing Chemicals – The flame retardant, Chlorinated Tris (TDCPP), recently found to be present in many baby products, was added last week to California’s Proposition 65 list of cancer-causing chemicals. The listing will not ban the chemical but could result in labeling of products containing the chemical.

FDA Petitioned by American Chemistry Council to Ban BPA in Baby Bottles and Sippy Cups - The American Chemistry Council has petitioned the FDA to ban BPA in bottles and sippy cups, noting that in many cases manufacturers have phased out BPA due to consumer demand and that a nationwide ban would ensure consistency and allow states to focus their legislative energies elsewhere. The FDA has not confirmed it will issue a regulation yet but it will issue a notice for comment. The EWG, on the other hand, is asking the FDA to extend the ban to baby formula and other canned goods. Not holding my breath on that one just yet.

New Research:

Have Penn State Researchers Found the Cure for Breast Cancer?!
Incredibly promising news came from Penn State this week as scientists there discovered a virus that kills breast cancer cells. The researchers applied the virus to three different breast cancer cell groups, representing three different stages of development, and the virus managed to kill 100% of the cells. In a particularly aggressive type of cancer cell, it took three weeks to kill 100% of the cells, but in the others it took only 7. The virus has also been successful against other types of cancer cells, including prostate and skin cancer. It currently works in a culture dish and in mice, but further animal trials and then human trials are needed before it can be considered for human treatment. Penn State is now stepping up its efforts to find the money to fund further research. 

Environmental Chemicals May be an Obstacle for Infertile Couples
New research has turned up evidence of a link between endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment and poor IVF outcomes. These chemicals disrupt a woman’s estrogen, making it more difficult to get pregnant. Higher blood levels of pollutants such as bisphenol A (BPA), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and hexachlorobenzene (HCB) have been found in mothers with failed IVF attempts, according to a handful of recent studies. In the studies, high levels of PCBs and HCB were associated with failed implantation, and high levels of BPA were associated with low levels of a particular form of estrogen instrumental in the development of eggs. More research is needed to determine if the results could be generalized beyond couples undergoing IVF.

Good Reads (or vids):

Notes from a Dragon Mom from The NY Times Sunday Review - Absolutely heartbreaking, yet inspirational.

Bully-Proofing Your Kids from CNN Living - Things we can start now with our young children to help them navigate the later years.

20 Tips for Using Baking Soda Around Your House from The Huffington Post - I’ve used baking soda for stain and odor elimination with good results but was surprised by some of the others on the list.

Recalls, October 11 – October 18:

CPSC Child Product Recalls

Child Safety Seat Recalls
No child safety seat recall announcements this week.

USDA/FDA Recalls

If there’s anything you see and think we should feature, please send it our way to jasmine@purebebe.com. We hope your week is off to a great start! XOXO, Jasmine & Heather

Weekly Highlights (8/7/11)

Welcome to “Weekly Highlights”, a weekend post that will recap important child health and safety news, research, and recalls from the week but also give us an avenue to share some of the other great reads we’ve come across in our internet travels. Happy weekend reading!

In the News:

Insurance Coverage for Contraception is Required - New standards issued this week require insurance coverage for contraception and other preventative services for women.

China Arrests 2,000 in Food Safety Crackdown - Serious punishment coming to those who mess with China’s food system as the country tries to overcome numerous contamination scares.

How Safe is Your Soil? - Lead and other heavy metals may exist in your soil. Consider soil testing, remediation and/or raised beds before growing fruits and vegetables at home.

New Research:

Flame retardants and other chemical additives found in children’s car seats
A review of over 150, 2011-model car seats found that more than half contained one or more “chemicals of concern”, including brominated flame retardants, chlorine (indicating the presence of PVC), arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. However, the 2011 results show a 64% improvement over 2008 test results, indicating improvement in manufacturing. Click through the link above to see healthystuff.org’s list of the best and worst car seats based on level of contaminants.

Favorite flavors may be programmed in early infancy
Recent research shows that flavors consumed in early infancy impact later food choices. Other research noted in the article indicates that many processed baby and toddler foods are loaded with excessive calories from simple sugars and too much sodium. Introducing healthy, unprocessed foods in infancy could promote healthier eating habits later in life.

Good Reads:

For Three Years, Every Bite Organic from The New York Times - For three years, Dr. Greene, a pediatrician, embarked on a 100% organic diet and learned a few things…

I Love Giving Birth from Hello Giggles: The best birth advice – “There is no one perfect way to have a baby…Do whatever feels right to you in that moment”

How to Win Over Stubborn Children from Parenting.com - Excellent tips for “negotiating” with your young child.

Recalls, July 30 – August 6:

CPSC Child Product Recalls

Child Safety Seat Recalls
No child safety seat recall announcements this week.

USDA/FDA Recalls

We’d love your feedback! What did you like? If there is anything you’d like us to add or change, we’d love to hear it! We hope you’re having a lovely weekend! XOXO, Jasmine & Heather

Weekly Highlights (7/30/11)

Welcome to “Weekly Highlights”, a weekend post that will recap important child health and safety news, research, and recalls from the week but also give us an avenue to share some of the other great reads we’ve come across in our internet travels. Happy weekend reading!

In the News:

CPSC Adopts Testing Requirements for Phthalates in Children’s Toys and Child Care Articles – Beginning December 31, 2011, third party testing should begin to ensure compliance with current federal phthalate limits.

What the USDA Doesn’t Want You to Know About Antibiotics and Factory Farms – A summary of recent academic findings addresses the growing problem of antibiotic resistant infections and their link to factory animal farms. Why have we been so slow to follow the lead of other countries? I take that back. I know why – $$$.

Casey Anthony Reportedly Seeking $1.5 Million for First Interview – That woman shouldn’t get a dime!

Americans, Demand Organic! – A new survey out from Thompson Reuters and NPR Health says 58% of Americans in every income range want organic food. Promising news!

FDA tests for Arsenic at US Mott’s plant – In response to last week’s news of arsenic in Mott’s apple products, FDA is collecting and testing samples.

CDC Still Listening to Youth Vaccination Debate – For the first time, the CDC asks for public input over a new meningitis vaccine which has been approved for babies as young as 9 months. Nice to see one government agency listening to the people.

Cadmium Limits Coming – Cadmium limits coming in Canada. EU and 5 US states have recently moved to do the same.

New Research:

Furniture linked to PBDE (flame retardant) levels in pregnant women
A study of pregnant immigrants in California, where flammability standards are the strictest, found increased exposure to PBDEs in the U.S. relative to Mexico and evidence that the source of exposure is furniture in the home. For each year the women lived in the U.S., the level of PBDEs in their blood increased 4%. Higher levels were also found in the women who had 3 or more pieces of furniture in their homes.

A mother’s stress while she is pregnant can have a long-lasting effect on her children’s genes
A study of teens aged 10 to 19 years and their mothers involving a psychological study found that women abused during pregnancy were significantly more likely to have a child with dampened glucocorticoid-receptor gene activity, which is associated with an increased risk of obesity, depression, and auto-immune diseases. These genes relay signals from stress hormones in the blood in the regions of the brain that control behavior.

Good Reads:

The Secret Ingredient in Your Orange Juice from Food Renegade: Industry practice brought to light

Good Old-Fashioned Playtime from Real Simple: 15 ways to bring back the art of fun (without electronics)

5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do from TED: Video

Recalls, July 23 – 29:

CPSC Child Product Recalls

Child Safety Seat Recalls
No child safety seat recall announcements this week.

USDA/FDA Recalls

We’d love your feedback! What did you like? If there is anything you’d like us to add or change, we’d love to hear it! Have a lovely weekend! XOXO, Jasmine & Heather

Flame Retardants on my Baby’s Changing Pad?

{Photo source}

Guest post by Joni Clifford

Motherhood has continually inspired or propelled me to investigate and research topics that I never even thought of before I became a parent. The safety of my children seemed like it would be “easy” for me, something that my natural instincts and experience would guide me in and that my internal alarms would go off as soon as danger was near. I truly thought that I would instinctually know when something wasn’t safe or healthy for my child.

Most of the topics that I have researched have been food, toy or care related. Is the food I am feeding my child free of additives, healthy, nutritious and good for the Earth? Are the toys I am buying developmentally appropriate and physically safe? What daycare environment is best for our family? You know…..normal stuff.

But I have to say that I never thought, in a million years, that I would be researching whether hormones and antibiotics were in our milk or virus genes spliced into plant seeds of our food. An article recently published in USA Today added another incredible item to the list: flame retardants on my baby’s changing pad.

A study by researchers at Duke University, published on May 18th, found flame retardants in the foam of 80% (80 of 101 products) of the baby products tested. They tested car seats, changing table pads, infant sleep positioners, portable crib mattresses, and nursing pillows. A few additional samples were collected from high chairs, nursery rocking chairs/gliders, baby walkers, baby carriers, and miscellaneous bathroom items. The researchers did not reveal the brands used in the study.

Why are there flame retardants on baby products?

Several sources have indicated that most manufacturers use foam treated with flame retardants to comply with California’s Technical Bulletin 117. Although the standard does not actually require the use of flame-retardant chemicals, polyurethane foam manufacturers will use chemical retardants as an efficient means of meeting the safety standard, which requires the foam in upholstered furniture be able to withstand a small open flame for 12 seconds without catching fire. Since California is such a large portion of the consumer market and have the most stringent safety requirements, most manufacturers build their products to satisfy CA’s requirements and then sell them nationally.

What chemicals did they find?

The most common flame retardant found was tris(1,3-dichloroisopropyl) phosphate (TDCPP).  But the researchers also found tris(2-chloroethyl) phosphate (TCEP) as an impurity and PBDE substances commonly associated with PentaBDE.

TDCPP is currently approved for use as a flame retardant in these types of products. Recent articles have confused TDCPP with a chemical that was banned in children’s clothes in the 1970′s (TRIS (2,3,-dibromopropyl) phosphate); however, it is not the same chemical. In 2006, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a Risk Assessment of Flame Retardant Chemicals in Upholstered Furniture Foam, which included TDCPP. This CPSC report states that (emphasis added) “…upholstered furniture manufactured with TDCPP treated foam might present a hazard to consumers, based on both cancer and non-cancer end points”.  And it is currently being evaluated by the state of California as a possible carcinogen.

TCEP, on the other hand, has already been labeled as a human carcinogen by the state of California. And PentaBDE was voluntarily phased out by manufacturers back in 2004 because nine states (including California) and the European Union (EU) passed laws to ban it.

According to Linda Birnbaum of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, of the retardants in the tested products, only pentaBDE is known to impact people.

I looked into the five products in which pentaBDE was detected, and all but one were purchased before 2004. The study notes indicated that a portable crib mattress was purchased in 2007 at a second hand store, so the year of manufacture was not able to be determined. Since the voluntary phase out started in 2004, and it was bought second-hand, there is no evidence provided that the crib mattress was manufactured after the phase out of the chemical.

What does all of this mean?

I have never seen flame retardant cautionary statements listed on the packaging of anything that I have bought for my children. What I have recently found out is that manufacturers are not required to label items that have been treated with flame retardants. Without the publication of this study, I would not have known that flame retardants were even used on these products. I now know to look for the TB 117 statement on the tag. I found this one my high chair:

However, this tag does not necessarily mean that the item has chemical flame retardants, since there are other ways to meet the flammability standards, but using them is one of the least expensive. So I assume that is the method that most manufacturers will use.

I have seen labels on pajamas that proclaim that they are flame resistant– giving me the impression that having flame retardants were a good thing. In fact, children’s pajamas are required to meet federal flammability standards and the American Academy of Pediatrics endorses the use of flame retardants on clothing to reduce the number of injuries and deaths from fires. They also instruct pediatricians to endorse legislation and regulations which promote that as well.

The American Chemistry Council tell us flame retardants “provide important fire safety benefits“, that they are “safe for use in consumer products”, and that the new study does not show harm to infants because it “does not address exposure or risk.”

So is it safe?

Based on a lot of the information I’ve read, the chemicals they found in the baby products are questionable at best. As stated, the study did not address exposure – like how much is absorbed through the skin, breathed in or consumed in dust via hand to mouth contact?

I feel that exposing my children to flame retardants (or any unnecessary chemical), even if it causes no harm, should be my choice as a parent and as a consumer. So while I will be looking to remove the products that contain them I will also be looking to support legislation or other campaigns which call for full disclosure of a product’s “ingredients” and contents. I’ve already replaced my changing table pads.

How can you reduce your family’s exposure to flame retardants?

The Safe Kids Buyer’s Guide, published by the Green Science Policy Institute in conjunction with the study, and the Environmental Working Group provide these tips:

  • Consider buying products that are less likely to contain flame retardants – those that contain polyester, down, wool or cotton (not polyurethane foam). For children’s pajamas, get 100% cotton that are labeled “wear snug fitting”. They should be labeled as such.
  • Use caution with products that contain the TB 117 label. Call the manufacturer to confirm they don’t use flame retardants.
  • Reduce the dust in your home, where these harmful chemical collect: vacuum frequently using a vacuum with a HEPA filter and wet-mop.
  • Wash hands often and especially before eating. For crawling babies, clean more frequently as their hands are in constant contact with dust and residue on the floor where the chemicals collect
  • Replace upholstery with rips that exposes the inner foam.
  • Advocate for safer products by supporting legislation to reform California’s TB 117 and the national Toxic Substances Control Act, and contact manufacturers to express your preference for flame retardant-free products. The Buyer’s Guide contains sample letters and contact information for voicing your concerns.

Products to buy:
According to the Buyer’s Guide referenced above, BabyLuxe Organic, Baby Bjorn, Orbit Baby and Boppy each have products which meet the TB 117 standards without chemical flame retardants.

For more information:
Identification of Flame Retardants in Polyurethane Foam Collected From Baby Products
California Technical Bulletin 117
National Toxicology Program 2011 Report on Carcinogens
American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement on Accident Prevention
Green Science Policy Institute

Joni is a happy, working mother of 2 beautiful and energetic little boys, 3.5 and almost 1! She enjoys all things healthy, natural and good for the Earth (and a few things that are not). At work, she is a Senior Business Analyst for a software development company. Outside of work, she enjoys running (even 1/2 marathons!), tending her garden, and keeping up with the latest on purebebe.com.

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