At first blush, making sure baby products were fire retardant seemed like a good idea. After all, protecting a baby should be a top priority. But over the past few years, we’ve begun to understand that these flame retardant chemicals are far from all helpful—some of them are dangerous. So the trend to put them in all baby products is reversing.
In an attempt to help parents make informed decisions regarding the products they purchase for their children, the Center for Environmental Health has published a new report on baby products and their use of flame retardant chemicals.
Beginning January 1, 2014, 15 baby products became exempt from having to meet flammability standards. It was determined that they didn’t post a fire risk, so regulators said they no longer had to include flame retardants. The CEH report surveyed manufacturers to gauge just how many of them had already made the change.
The survey asked the following four questions:
- Does your company currently sell baby products made with intentionally added flame retardants?
- If some products still contain flame retardants, which ones?
- What is your timeline to removing these flame retardant chemicals from your products?
- How will you let consumers know that your baby products do not contain flame retardants — through labeling or (for web-based companies) information offered online at the point of purchase, or via product websites?
While they applaud those manufacturers who have willingly removed flame retardants from their baby products, the CEH says these companies could go even further by labeling those products prominently as “Flame Retardant Free”. This would make it far easier for consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.
For consumers, they recommend avoiding the products that include polyurethane foam and sticking with cotton, wool, or other natural fibers less likely to have flame retardants. They also suggest visiting their site frequently for updates on products that are now flame retardant free.
“There is no reason that any baby products company should use harmful flame retardant chemicals that can contaminate children’s bodies,” said Judy Levin, pollution prevention co-director for CEH. “Companies that have removed the flame retardant chemicals and labeled their products as flame retardant free are to be commended for their leadership. We call upon all baby products companies to follow suit.”