(KPIX 5) — A test commissioned by KPIX5 has uncovered a “cancer-causing” flame retardant in another car seat that was advertised to be free of the carcinogen.
The discovery in the supposedly “green” car seat is just the latest example of carcinogens finding their way into children’s products – and in children’s bodies.
When KPIX5 first discovered last year that the Orbit Baby G2 car seat tested positive for a chemical “known to cause cancer” despite its green advertising claims, Arlene Blum of the Green Science Policy Institute gave Orbit the benefit of the doubt. “People who make products can’t even find out what is in their products … I mean I think Orbit means well, but they just don’t know what’s in their products,” Blum explained.
With so many suppliers and so much room for human error, products from even the best-intentioned companies have tested positive for some of the most concerning chemicals.
Case in point: The allegedly-green TDCPP-free car seat— that reporter Julie Watts purchased to replace her daughter’s previous allegedly-green TDCPP-free car seat— has now also tested positive for TDCPP.
After receiving the first positive test results for her daughter’s Orbit Baby car seats during a KPIX5 investigation in January 2016, the reporter went to great lengths to find a replacement car seat that was free of the most concerning flame retardant chemicals, and specifically, free of TDCPP.
TDCPP, or Chlorinated Tris, was removed from children’s pajamas in the 70’s, is now listed as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization and is on California’s list of known cancer-causing chemicals. It’s also found in kid’s car seats, furniture and inside children themselves.
After extensive research, she chose a Clek car seat.
The same Ecology Center study that initially found Tris in the Orbit Baby car seat, ranked Clek near the top of its list of “green” car seats citing “green engineering solutions that reduce the need for added flame retardants.”
Clek’s website also advertised that, as of 2014, its Crypton fabric car seats were “officially free of bromine and chlorine-based flame retardants.”
Watts had also reviewed various independent test results posted on ‘green mom’ blogs and spoke with a ‘green’ retailer who had seen Clek’s own test results. Based on the retardants they were using as of January 2016, that retailer felt Clek was one of the safest (chemically speaking) on the market.
However, when Watts first received the Orbit results in January and attempted to buy a replacement car seat, local stores were sold out of the 2015 Cleks and waiting for the 2016 models to arrive. She eventually purchased a Clek floor model from a store in another city. It was a 2014 Clek Foonf, manufactured in November of 2013, purchased in 2016.
KPIX5 has now learned that Clek had used some of the remaining 2013 model car seat covers, which apparently contained TDCPP, on some of the 2014 model car seats.
In an email, a spokeswoman said that Watts’ car seat “was the first (and only) reported case with a Crypton Super Fabric model, which prompted us to investigate the matter further.”
Clek says it has now discovered that several other 2014 models were affected including 2014 model year Foonf seats with Flamingo, Snowberry, Tank, Dragonfly, Ink, Blue Moon, Shadow, or Tokidoki (Travel, All-Over, Rebel) colors, and Fllo model seats with the Flamingo color manufactured in 2014.
“We have learned that a limited quantity of our Clek Foonf 2014 model year products and Clek Fllo Flamingo products manufactured during 2014 may contain fabric covers with chlorinated flame retardants. These Clek products remain appropriate for their intended use. Any customer with one of these Clek products who wishes to receive a new fabric cover free of these flame retardants may contact our customer service team and will be sent a replacement cover free of charge.”
The company has also voluntarily agreed to contact consumers who’ve registered affected car seats with the company.
While it is not illegal to sell a car seat with TDCPP, companies do have to post a warning before selling a product that contains the chemical in California.
It is important to note that all car seats have flame retardants. The chemicals are essentially required to pass a 1970’s motor vehicle regulation. While Halogenated (i.e.chlorinated and brominated) & Organophosphorous flame retardants are believed to be more concerning, green scientists cite limited health data on their replacements.
As KPIX 5 has reported, fire scientists, and even car seat manufactures, believe the chemicals in car seats are largely irrelevant to fire safety in a real-world car fire. They have urged the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to update its regulation so that parents have the option to buy a car seat without retardants.
Legislation was recently introduced that would require the agency to do that, but it has gone largely ignored.
A prominent blogger, “Natural Baby Mama,” has launched an online petition to urge lawmaker support for that car seat legislation that, for the first time, would allow parents to purchase car seats without any flame retardants. The law would not ban retardants, rather it provides for an alternative flammability standard that would allow manufactures to make car seats without retardants.
For more information, you can read Watts’ full story on her NewsMom.com blog.