Study: Toxic Chemicals Found in Children's Car Seats

The nonprofit Ecology Center has released its fourth annual report on toxic chemicals in children’s car seats, and the news is alarming.  Research shows that many of these products are made with dangerous chemicals that can lead to serious health risks for children.

The consumer-friendly site, which also has comprehensive data on toxic chemicals in toys, cars and home improvement products, allows users to look up which car seats rank the best and worst in terms of toxic chemical content.  Anyone looking to buy a new car seat, or wondering if their child’s current car seat is safe, can visit this site and search by model, or comparison shop between different models or years.

Chemicals tested for include: bromine (associated with brominated flame retardants); chlorine (indicating the presence of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC and plasticizers); lead; and heavy metal allergens.  Such chemicals have been linked to major health problems such as liver, thyroid and developmental problems in children.  Babies are the most vulnerable population in terms of exposure to chemical-laden dust and inhaling toxic fumes, since their systems are still developing. 

The Ecology Center tested more than 150 infant, convertible and booster car seats and found that while some are virtually free of the most dangerous chemicals, others are saturated.  To sample the car seats they used a portable X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) device, which identifies the elemental composition of any material in less than 60 seconds.

Best and Worst Car Seats

Worst 2011 Car Seats:

  • Infant Seat: Graco Snugride 35 in Edgemont Red/Black & Graco SnugRide 30 in Asprey
  • Convertible Seat: Britax Marathon 70 in Jet Set & Britax Marathon in Platinum
  • Booster Seat: Recaro Pro Booster in Blue Opal & Recaro ProSPORT Toddler in Misty

Best 2011 Car Seats:

  • Infant Seat: Chicco KeyFit 30 in Limonata, Graco Snugride 35 in Laguna Bay & Combi Shuttle 33 in Cranberry Noche
  • Convertible Carseat: Graco Comfort Sport in Caleo, Graco MyRide 65 in Chandler and Streamer, Safety 1st OnSide Air in Clearwater, and Graco Nautilus Elite 3-in-1 in Gabe
  • Booster Seat: Graco Turbo Booster in Anders