Safety is not a gadget but a state of mind. ~ Eleanor Everet
Sometimes the very devices we depend on for safety can be, in fact, detrimental to our health. Case in point: children's car seats. Most parents research which ones have the best safety record in the event of an accident and buy accordingly. However, not so many parents think to look into what those car seats are actually made from and how that might affect their child's safety.
It turns out that 60 percent of the more than 150 2011-model car seats tested by the non-profit group Healthystuff.org contain "chemicals of concern."1 The chemicals they discovered in the products include brominated flame retardants, arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury. Happily, the number of car seats found with these deadly toxins was 64 percent better than those tested in 2008. But clearly there is still plenty of room for improvement.
All of the car seats were checked for the existence of chemicals with an X-ray fluorescence analyzer. Each of the toxins is dangerous in its own right, and some of the seats contained more than one toxic chemical. Brominated flame retardants are added to products to reduce fire-related injuries, but have been linked in studies with liver, thyroid, and neurodevelopmental toxicity. (Thank you, California.2) Arsenic is a natural element, but highly toxic, and too much exposure to it has been associated with paralysis, blindness, cancer, and death. Lead, which is particularly dangerous to children under six years old, can cause learning difficulties, fatigue, irritability, and loss of appetite. Cadmium is a very toxic metal that can bring about respiratory, kidney, and liver problems as well as soften the bones, cause muscle weakness, and sometimes cause death. Mercury exposure can seriously affect the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, and immune system, and is especially damaging to the nervous systems of young children.
Healthystuff.org did not test the car seats to determine whether any of the chemicals were actually being absorbed by children. However, each of these toxins is dangerous enough to severely harm a child, and parents should want their children as far from any possible exposure as they can keep them. Of the seats tested, every one manufactured by two brands -- Baby Trend and Recaro -- contained brominated flame retardants. In addition, more than 80 percent of the Britax car seats tested contained brominated flame retardants, as did 44 percent of the seats overall.
The biochemical makeup of children makes them more sensitive to chemicals than adults so that even if the levels are low, health consequences are likely. Just a few years, or even months, of exposure as an infant in a car seat every day to even low levels of toxins can ultimately degrade your child's health.
It's essential to do your homework before purchasing a car seat to determine which ones have the least chemical additives. Note: the color of the car seat matters hugely, since the additives used to attain certain colors can be highly toxic. According to the Healthystuff.org analysis, the best choices for infant seats manufactured in 2011 were the Chicco KeyFit 30 in Limonata yellow, the Graco Snugride 35 in Laguna Bay, and the Combi Shuttle 33 in Cranberry Noche. The best convertible car seats were the Graco Comfort Sport in Caleo, the Graco MyRide 65 in Chandler and Streamer, the Safety 1st Onside Air in Clearwater, and the Graco Nautilus Elite 3-in-1 in Gabe. The safest booster seat was the Graco Turbo Booster in Anders brown.
Let's not fool ourselves. Even the most careful consumers who try to buy all natural products and eat only local, organic foods are still exposed to toxins. They are simply too prevalent in our world today. That doesn’t mean you should give up or change your healthy habits. Remain vigilant about the products you purchase to keep your levels of toxic chemicals as low as possible. And although not recommended for children, adults should keep in mind the advantages of regular heavy metal cleanses, colon detoxes, and liver flushes to remove as many toxins as you can from your body. You will stay healthier and, at the same time, be setting a good example for your children to follow as they get older too.
1 undefined. "2011 Children's Car Seat Findings." Healthystuff.org. 3 August 2011. Healthystuff.org. 1 September 2011. <http://www.healthystuff.org/departments/childrens-products/about.findings.php>.
2 Francesca Vietor, "Gov. Brown, Please Regulate Flame Retardants and Toxic Chemicals, For Our Children's Sake!" 1 Aug 2011. Huff Post Green. Accessed 2 Sept 2011. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/francesca-vietor/flame-retardants-hazards_b_901165.html>