June 4th, 2015

Are There Toxic Chemicals Hiding in Your Child’s Car Seat?

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Hazardous Chemicals Found in Popular Child Car Seats Groovy Green Livin

Many young children spend hours in a car every week strapped into a car seat. When my kids were infants they basically lived in their car seat. I would drag them from activity to activity strapped in. The car seat snapped directly into the stroller during those first few years of life. If they fell asleep in the car I would bring the entire car seat into the house and let them continue their nap in the seat.

In a new study released today by the nonprofit Ecology Center  (at the consumer-friendly site, www.HealthyStuff.org) the findings show that some of our favorite car seats are filled with toxic chemicals.

Looking back, I wonder how many hours my kids spent in those car seats on a daily basis? And to think I was strapping them into their car seat to protect them, not to expose them to toxic chemicals.


The Ecology Center tested 15 infant, convertible and booster car seats and found that while most seats still contain dangerous chemicals, some companies have taken big steps towards reducing chemical hazards.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of seats tested contained hazardous halogenated flame retardants and over half contained non-halogenated organophosphate flame retardants, some of which are hazardous as well. The study finds the hazardous flame retardant chemicals and alternatives used by companies are poorly regulated, putting consumers at risk, and questions the fire safety benefit of using these chemicals. Top rated companies in the study, Britax and Clek, have been aggressively implementing policies to reduce hazards in their products while still meeting all safety standards.  The poorest performing company was Graco.

The study is the fifth in series of studies identifying poorly regulated chemical hazards in car seats since 2006. HealthyStuff.org has tested 377 car seats in the last 9 years.  Added flame retardant chemicals are not bound to the car seat materials and thus are released over time. Infants, toddlers and children can be exposed through inhalation, ingestion and dermal (skin) absorption of these chemicals.

According to Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, this is one more example of how the lack of regulation in cars has resulted in car interiors having some of the highest levels of hazardous chemicals, including flame retardants.

Here’s what The Car Seat Study found:

Graco’s Nautilus 3-in-1 car seat in Matrix, according to Ecology Center’s research, is one of the most toxic car seats.

Best 2014-15 Car Seats:

  • Britax Frontier and Marathon (Convertible)
  • Clek Foonf (Convertible)

Worst 2014-15 Car Seats:

  • Graco, My Size 65 (Convertible)
  • Baby Trend, Hybrid 3-in-1 (Convertible)

Other brands with products tested include: Chicco, Cybex, Dorel Juvenile Group (Eddie Bauer, Safety First), Evenflo, Harmony Juvenile, Orbit Baby, Peg Perego. To see if your car seat is on the list take a look HERE.

Here’s what you can do

  • Find a safer car seat. Check in with the retailer directly and ask about their use of toxic flame retardants.
  • Use your dollars and your voice to let car seat manufactures know that toxic flame retardants in car seats are unnecessary and unacceptable.
  • Occasionally vacuum the car seat and your car. According to Consumer Reports, this will help limit the amount of dust, which is where chemicals released from the seat or vehicle’s interior may settle.

Is your child’s car seat on the list? How can we get car seat manufacturers to remove toxic flame retardants from their products?


P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy our Groovy Green Livin NewsletterReceive new posts and special opportunities delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.





7 Responses to “Are There Toxic Chemicals Hiding in Your Child’s Car Seat?”

  1. Thanks for your post! It’s so important to know what kinds of toxics are going into our children’s carseats.

  2. It’s a great information for us. Glad to read this post. Thanks and God Bless.

  3. I haven’t had a child in a car seat for a long time but yes, I use to clean the car seat. I took Lysol wipes and wiped it down quite frequently.
    DSI recently posted..Baby Trend Expedition Double Jogger ReviewMy Profile

  4. It is so important to inform people about car seat safety. Some things are not obvious.

  5. I have not vacuumed because we have 6 carseats…it seemed a waste to get the interior carwash. There is almost no room to vacuum anything. But I will try, now. At least the floors and stuff. I did get an Orbit to avoid most chemicals. You just…do the best you can. It’s scary. I won’t buy kiddie pajamas unless they have no flame retardants. And this 100% means my kids are a bit cold in winter since we don’t do footsie (warm) PJ’s. But it’s a trade-off.

  6. I would add, NEVER buy a used car seat. Once a seat has been in an accident it has to be replaced whether there is visible damage to the seat or not. Someone selling their old car seat could have had an accident with visible damage to their car, but not the car seat. They may not know any better than to not sell that seat after the accident. Even though there doesn’t appear to be damage to the seat it may not perform as well in another accident.

  7. The hardest this is who has the cash to go out and purchase all new car seats again. We are using hand-me-downs and thank goodness coz we couldnt afford it otherwise.

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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