BERKELEY (KPIX 5) – Many parents who wouldn’t dream of exposing their babies to toxic chemicals may inadvertently be doing just that by purchasing nursing pillows and car seats that conform to California’s current flammability standard, according to Arlene Blum, the Berkeley-based scientist who back in the 1970’s led the charge to get chemical flame retardants banned from children’s clothing.
“It’s incredible that the same chemical that was taken from kids pajamas back in the 70’s is still in all these baby products,” Blum told ConsumerWatch. Blum said the issue is a result of TB117, the state’s soon-to-be discarded flammability standard, that requires products with padding to withstand an open flame for 12 seconds without catching fire.
Many manufacturers meet that standard by embedding chemicals in the foam, that Blum said can cause serious health problems.
“These chemicals impact brain development and reproductive organ development, and some of them like TRIS are associated with increased rates of cancer,” Blum said.
Concern about the effects of flame retardants has led to a new market for chemical-free baby products. Products without chemicals will often carry labels saying they do not abide by California’s flammability law. Blum contends that, overall, products that do not conform to the state law are safer.
The state’s flammability standard is currently being rewritten to exclude most baby products. Nursing pillows and strollers are already exempt.
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