I recently wrote about Environment California’s report on Formaldehyde in nursery furniture and the potential threat to our children’s health. Well, Friends of the Earth (FoE USA) are hot on the heels of this report and have released their own findings regarding toxic fire retardants common in baby products and it does not paint a pretty picture.
FoE looked at Halogenated fire retardants which have been linked to cancer, birth defects, hormone disruption, neurological and reproductive disfunction, and learning disabilities including ADHD which is becoming ever more prevelant.
Babies and children are especially vulnerable to these chemicals as their bodies are still growing, these chemicals once absorbed by the body stay there, effecting normal body functions which can lead to disease.
Their findings look at the percentage of products found to contain high levels of halogenated fire retardents:
56% of all infant carriers, 44% of all car seats, 40% of all pushchairs, and 19% of all portable cribs. These are staggering numbers and very worrying when we consider the amount of time our children spend surrounded by these products.
It comes as no surprise to also learn that there are safer alternatives available but due to cost are often not used.
It is important to know that these chemicals are not bound to the product and escape into our environment, settling in the dust we breathe. The EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) estimates that 82% of our contamination comes from household dust. Our children are at higher risk as they spend most of their time playing on the floor – remember always take your shoes off when entering the home.
These chemicals also pose an environmental threat, accumulating in our rivers and seas, entering our food chain and accumulating in aquatic life.
Safe options to traditional flame retardants:
Friends of the Earth lists supplier information.
Check with manufacturers before buying a new product or furniture.
Look for hard surfaces such as wood (solid not composite) and metal. Fillings such as polyester, feathers and wool have much lower levels, if at all, of fire retardants.
Vacuum often and use a HEPA filter to keep dust levels low in your home.
Support Friends of the Earth in ending the use of toxic fire retardants.