A new study from the non-profit Ecology Center and HealthyStuff.org reveals that 60 percent of popular children’s car seats may contain harmful chemicals. The data is based on laboratory testing of 150 2011-model car seats.
According to the data, more than half of all new car seats contain bromine, which has been linked to memory impairment in babies and children; chlorine, which could damage the liver; lead, which could cause brain damage or learning disabilities; and other allergens that have been linked to cancer and other medical issues. The researchers used a portable x-ray fluorescence device to determine which chemicals were in each part of the seats.
Ecology Center says that babies and children are most at risk from these substances because their bodies are still developing. Moreover, the group claims exposure to UV rays and sunlight can cause the seat materials to break down and become more toxic. Using seats with high levels of these materials can thus be harmful to infants.
Of course, not using appropriate car seats and child restraints can lead to serious injuries in vehicle accidents. To help parents choose the best way to keep their kids buckled in while avoiding carcinogens, the groups have ranked car seats based on toxicity levels. The lowest levels of harmful chemicals were found in the Chicco KeyFit 30, Graco SnugRide 35, Combi Shuttle 33, Graco Comfort Sport, Graco MyRide 65, Safety 1st OnSide Air, Graco Nautilus Elite 3-in-1, and the Graco Turbo Booster.
The highest levels were found in the Graco Snugride 35, Graco SnugRide 30, Britax Marathon 70, Britax Maratho, Recaro Pro Booster, and Recaro ProSPORT Toddler.
Of course, nobody is advocating against car seat use. “Car seats save lives. It's absolutely essential that parents put their children in them while driving,” said Ecology Center research director Jeff Gearhart. “However, our research shows that some car seats contain more harmful chemicals than others.”